My first-born heads out for his first deployment today.
When he started his basic training at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the summer of 2011, I answered my friends’ concerned questions with, “Of course I worry about what’s going on in the world, but I’m proud he’s chosen to serve his country during a time of war. Plus, between school and military training, we have at least five years before he could possibly be sent somewhere. Surely we’ll bring our troops home by then.”
Now, that five-year mark has arrived. He’s graduated from West Point and completed his military training schools. He’s now a hard-working second lieutenant in the United States Army, which is still sending men and women to the Middle East on a regular basis. Add Islamic fundamentalists and unpredictable Russians to the mix, and the world could quite possibly be an even scarier place than it was back then.
The Older One tries to assuage my concern by telling me, “It’s just a training deployment, Momma. I’m only going to Germany.”
“Yes, my dear,” I respond patiently, “but the problem is, you say ‘Germany’, and I hear, ‘ISIS’.”
Such is the life of an Army Mom. I knew what I was signing up for when I encouraged him to play with GI Joe and fill out the West Point application. (Note: The first happened many years before the second.) As deployments go, I know six months in Europe is not the worst news an Army Mom (or any Military Mom) can hear.
I will be Army Strong. I will bake cookies and send care packages, and I will carry my phone with me every waking and non-waking moment until he comes home.
Which brings me to how I’m going to make a difference with a deployment diversion.
As many long-time readers know, I work for a company that is invested in my wellness. We have treadmill desks on every floor and signs on every wall encouraging us to move. We also have the 100 Day Dash—an annual challenge to walk as much as possible for 100 days straight.
The Dash kicked off yesterday with an added feature for the 2016 edition. The great minds behind the Dash have partnered with Charity Miles, a free iPhone and Android app that enables people to earn corporate sponsorships for charity while walking, running or biking. Just download the app, enable GPS and motion detection on your phone, select one of 30 charities and start moving. The sponsors of the app will donate up to $0.25 for each mile to the chosen charity.
It’s a great addition to an already fun program that lets me get fit, raise money for one of my favorite charities (The Crohn’s & Colits Foundation of America), and gives me a diversion for at least the first half of deployment.
My goal is to average at least 10,000 per day. It’s my goal any other day of the year too, but during the Dash, if I’m successful, I’ll be able to earn cool prizes like a shapeless t-shirt and a cute graphic to add to my email signature. Those are awesome for the moments when I just can’t help but brag about my physical prowess, but this year, meeting my goal also means I will have walked at least 500 miles, which equates to $125 for CCFA. That may not seem like a lot, but I’m optimistic enough to believe my $125 might mean my son’s children could one day have the cure I don’t have today.
The added bonus is that for this grand plan to work, I’ll have to carry my phone with me everywhere I go, which coincidentally, is rule number one in the Army Mom’s guide to surviving deployment. You can’t get a call from your soldier if you leave your phone on the kitchen counter when you go out to get the mail. I can’t log steps or earn donations if I do that either. Win. Win.
When the Dash is over in mid-July, I’ll be on the back side of deployment with only two more care packages to send and a homecoming to plan. Those diversions combined with lots of prayers and support from my Army Mom network will get me through deployment.
Please keep all of our soldiers in your thoughts and prayers. Their mommas will thank you for it.