Friday, December 25, 2009


Brandon came home October 15th from being away for eight weeks of training. It was awesome having him home again. I missed him so much!!! His time at home was short as we were getting ready to go to the States for his Block Leave. Brandon and I spent the later part of October and beginning of November in the States. The first week was in California visiting Jana's family and the second week was in Ohio with Brandon's family. The purpose of the trip was for Brandon's Block Leave. He gets 2 weeks off before deployment to spend time with family and friends.

In California, we stayed with my brother Aaron and his family. We got a few days to play with my nephews Jonah and Zachary. I(Jana) had some great girl time with Jeanette while Brandon got to play some football with Aaron. The rest of the week was with Jana's parents. We made day trips to Yosemite and Pismo Beach. It was awesome to spend time with the 'rents.

We flew from California to Ohio on Halloween. We were disappointed with the lack of costumes in the airports. We made it to his parent's house in Toledo around 2am. The next day his parents were having an Open House for us. It was a blessing to meet and visit with guests that could not make it to our wedding back in June. We also got to celebrate with his parents on their 30th Wedding Anniversary. What a milestone!! We went to dinner as a family to celebrate this joyous occasion. The rest of the week we relaxed and caught up with his parents. Melissa, Brandon's sister, is working and going to school full-time. She took Friday off to be with us and we went to Columbus for the day.

Brandon and I are blessed with the families God has given us. I know the time we have with them is never enough, but we could not live the military life without their encouragement, support and love. Thanks, Mom & Dad P. and Mom & Dad Y.!!! We love you!!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Deployment: My Feelings on Separation and Preparation

Deployment number three is coming up around the corner and is fast approaching. No one can ever relate with you unless they have actually been through a deployment. This deployment is different, I am married. The last deployment we were dating. My feeling range from excited for it to start and be over, loneliness, anger, sadness and numb. Hopefully, I can somehow share with you the ups and downs.

When I hear other Army couples talk about deployment, they tend to say "we" are deploying. How can "we" deploy? Brandon is the one going to the war zone. I am not the one going to live in a desert for a year, live in a CHU(Container Handling Unit), sanity to the outside world is through my laptop, and gets to carry a weapon wherever he goes. (NOTE: Never call his weapon a gun)

Below is the Stages of Deployment. The bolded part of Stage 1 is where we are right now. Nothing in my life could ever prepare me for what I am feeling right now. Please take the time to read the bolded.

The Five Stages of Deployment
1. Pre-deployment

The onset of this stage begins with the warning order for deployment. This stage ends when the Soldier actually departs from home station. The pre-deployment timeframe is extremely variable from several weeks to more than a year.

Stage 1. Pre-deployment
  • Anticipation of loss vs. denial
  • Train-up/long hours away
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Mental/physical distance
  • Arguments
Time frame: variable
The pre-deployment stage is characterized alternately by denial and anticipation of loss. As the departure date gets closer, spouses often ask: "You don't really have to go, do you?" Eventually, the increased field training, preparation, and long hours away from home herald the extended separation that is to come. Soldiers energetically talk more and more about the upcoming mission and their unit. This "bonding" to fellow Soldiers is essential to unit cohesion that is necessary for a safe and successful deployment. Yet, it also creates an increasing sense of emotional and physical distance for military spouses.5,7,8 In their frustration, many spouses complain: "I wish you were gone already." It is as if their loved ones are already "psychologically deployed."

As the reality of the deployment finally sinks in, the Soldier and Family try to get their affairs in order. Long "honey-do" lists are generated dealing with all manner of issues including: home repairs, security (door and window locks, burglar alarms, etc.), car maintenance, finances, tax preparation, child care plans and wills, just to name a few. At the same time, many couples strive for increased intimacy. Plans are made for the "best" Christmas, the "perfect" vacation, or the "most" romantic anniversary. In contrast, there may be some ambivalence about sexual relations: "this is it for six months, but I do not want to be that close." Fears about fidelity or marital integrity are raised or may go unspoken. Other frequently voiced concerns may include: "How will the children handle the separation? Can I cope without him/her? Will my marriage survive?" In this very busy and tumultuous time, resolving all these issues, completing the multitude of tasks or fulfilling high expectations often falls short.

A common occurrence, just prior to deployment, is for Soldiers and their spouses to have a significant argument.5,9 For couples with a long history, this argument is readily attributed to the ebb-and-flow of marital life and therefore not taken too seriously. For younger couples, especially those experiencing an extended separation for the first time, such an argument can take on "catastrophic" proportions. Fears that the relationship is over can lead to tremendous anxiety for both Soldier and spouse. In retrospect, these arguments are most likely caused by the stress of the pending separation. From a psychological perspective, it is easier to be angry than confront the pain and loss of saying goodbye for six months or more.5,6

However, the impact of unresolved Family concerns can have potentially devastating consequences. From a command perspective, a worried, preoccupied Soldier is easily distracted and unable to focus on essential tasks during the critical movement of heavy military equipment. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to a serious accident or the development of a Soldier stress casualty who is mission ineffective.2,10,11 On the home front, significant spousal distress interferes with completing basic routines, concentrating at work, and attending to the needs of children. At worst, this can exacerbate children's fears that the parents are unable to adequately care for them or even that the Soldier will not return. Adverse reactions by children can include inconsolable crying, apathy, tantrums, and other regressive behaviors. In response, a downward spiral can develop - if not quickly checked - in which both Soldier and spouse become even more upset at the prospect of separating.

Although easier said than done, it is often helpful for military couples - in the pre-deployment stage - to discuss in detail their expectations of each other during the deployment. These expectations can include a variety of issues, to include: freedom to make independent decisions, contact with the opposite sex (fidelity), going out with friends, budgeting, child-rearing, and even how often letters or care packages will be sent. Failure to accurately communicate these and other expectations is frequently a source of misperception, distortion and hurt later on in the deployment. It is difficult at best to resolve major marital disagreements when face-to-face, let alone over six thousand miles apart.

2. Deployment: This stage is the period from the Soldier's departure from home through the first month of the deployment.

Stage 2. Deployment
  • Mixed emotions/relief
  • Disoriented/overwhelmed
  • Numb, sad, alone
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Security issues
Time frame: first month
A roller coaster of mixed emotions is common during the deployment stage. Some military spouses report feeling disoriented and overwhelmed. Others may feel relieved that they no longer have to appear brave and strong. There may be residual anger at tasks left undone. The Soldier's departure creates a "hole," which can lead to feelings of numbness, sadness, being alone or abandonment. It is common to have difficulty sleeping and anxiety about coping. Worries about security issues may ensue, including: "What if there is a pay problem? Is the house safe? How will I manage if my child gets sick? What if the car breaks down?" For many, the deployment stage is an unpleasant, disorganizing experience.

3. Sustainment: The sustainment stage lasts from the first month through the fifth (penultimate) month of deployment.

Stage 3. Sustainment
  • New routines established
  • New sources of support
  • Feel more in control
  • Independence
  • Confidence ("I can do this")
Time frame: months two thru five
Sustainment is a time of establishing new sources of support and new routines. Many rely on the Family Readiness Group (FRG), which serves as a close network that meets on a regular basis to handle problems and disseminate the latest information. Others are more comfortable with Family, friends, church or other religious institution as their main means of emotional support. As challenges come up, most spouses learn that they are able to cope with crises and make important decisions on their own. They report feeling more confident and in control. During the sustainment stage, it is common to hear military spouses say: "I can do this!"

One challenge, during this stage, is the rapid speed of information provided by widespread phone and e-mail access. In the near future, one can even expect that individual Soldiers will have the ability to call home with personal cellular phones. Over long distances and without face-to-face contact, communications between husband and wife are much more vulnerable to distortion or misperception. Given this limitation, discussing "hot topics" in a marriage can be problematic and are probably best left on hold until after the deployment when they can be resolved more fully. Obvious exceptions, to this rule, include a Family emergency (i.e. the critical illness of a loved one) or a joyful event (i.e. the birth of a child). In these situations, the ideal route of communication is through the Red Cross so that the Soldier's command is able to coordinate emergency leave if required.

On a related note, many spouses report significant frustration because phone contact is unidirectional and must be initiated by the Soldier. Some even report feeling "trapped" at home for fear that they will miss a call. Likewise, Soldiers may feel forgotten if they call - especially after waiting a long time on line to get to a phone - and no one is home. This can lead to anger and resentment, especially if an expectation regarding the frequency of calls is unmet. Now that Internet and e-mail are widely available, spouses report feeling much more in control as they can initiate communication and do not have to stay waiting by the phone. Another advantage of e-mail, for both Soldier and spouse, is the ability to be more thoughtful about what is said and to "filter out" intense emotions that may be unnecessarily disturbing. This is not to say that military couples should "lie" to protect each other, but rather it helps to recognize that the direct support available from one's mate is limited during the deployment.

4. Re-deployment:

The re-deployment stage is essentially defined as the month before the Soldier is scheduled to return home.

Stage 4. Re-deployment
  • Anticipation of homecoming
  • Excitement
  • Apprehension
  • Burst of energy/"nesting"
  • Difficulty making decisions
Time frame: months five thru six

The re-deployment stage is generally one of intense anticipation. Like the deployment stage, there can be a surge of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, there is excitement that the Soldier is coming home. On the other, there is some apprehension. Some concerns include: "Will he (she) agree with the changes that I have made? Will I have to give up my independence? Will we get along?" Ironically, even though the separation is almost over, there can be renewed difficulty in making decisions. This is due, in part, to increased attention to choices that the returning Soldier might make. Many spouses also experience a burst of energy during this stage.5,6 There is often a rush to complete "to-do" lists before their mate returns - especially around the home. It is almost inevitable that expectations will be high.

5. Post-deployment:

Stage 5. Post-deployment
  • Honeymoon period
  • Loss of independence
  • Need for "own" space
  • Renegotiating routines
  • Reintegrating into Family
Time frame: three to six months after deployment
The post-deployment stage begins with the arrival to home station. Like the pre-deployment stage, the timeframe for this stage is also variable depending on the particular Family. Typically, this stage lasts from three to six months.

This stage starts with the "homecoming" of the deployed Soldier. This can be a wonderfully joyous occasion with children rushing to the returning parent followed by the warm embrace and kiss of the reunited couple. The unit then comes to attention for one last time, followed by words of praise from the senior commander present. Lastly, weapons are turned in and duffle bags retrieved and the Family goes home.

Homecoming can also be an extremely frustrating and upsetting experience. The date of return may change repeatedly or units may travel home piece-meal over several days. Despite best intentions, the spouse at home may not be able to meet the returning Soldier (short notice, the children might be sick, sitters cannot be found in the middle of the night, unable to get off work, etc.). Soldiers may expect to be received as "heroes" and "heroines" only to find that they have to make their own way home.

Typically, a "honeymoon" period follows in which couples reunite physically, but not necessarily emotionally. Some spouses express a sense of awkwardness in addition to excitement: "Who is this stranger in my bed?" For others, however, the desire for sexual intimacy may require time in order to reconnect emotionally first.

Eventually, Soldiers will want to reassert their role as a member of the Family, which can lead to tension.6 This is an essential task, which requires considerable patience to accomplish successfully. Soldiers may feel pressure to make up for lost time and missed milestones. Soldiers may want to take back all the responsibilities they had before. However, some things will have changed in their absence: spouses are more autonomous, children have grown, and individual personal priorities in life may be different. It is not realistic to return home and expect everything to be the same as before the deployment.

During this period, spouses may report a lost sense of independence. There may be resentment at having been "abandoned" for six months or more. Spouses may consider themselves to be the true heroes (watching the house, children, paying bills, etc.) while Soldiers cared only for themselves. At least one study (Zeff et. al., 1997) suggests that the stay-at-home parent is more likely to report distress than the deployed Soldier. Spouses will also have to adapt to changes. Spouses may find that they are more irritable with their mates underfoot. They may desire their "own" space. Basic household chores and routines need to be renegotiated. The role played by the spouse in the marriage must be reestablished.

Reunion with children can also be a challenge. Their feelings tend to depend on their age and understanding of why the Soldier was gone. Babies less than 1 year old may not know the Soldier and cry when held. Toddlers (1-3 years) may be slow to warm up. Pre-schoolers (3-6 years) may feel guilty and scared over the separation. School age children (6-12 years) may want a lot of attention. Teenagers (13-18 years) may be moody and may not appear to care. In addition, children are often loyal to the parent that remains behind and do not respond to discipline from the returning Soldier. They may also fear the Soldier's return: "Wait till Mommy/Daddy gets home!" Some children may display significant anxiety up to a year later ("anniversary reaction"), triggered by the possibility of separation. In addition, the Soldier may not approve of privileges granted to children by the non-deployed parent. However, it is probably best for the Soldier not to try to make changes right away and to take time renegotiating Family rules and norms. Not heeding this advice, the Soldier risks invalidating the efforts of his/her mate and alienating the children. Soldiers may feel hurt in response to such a lukewarm reception. Clearly going slow and letting the child(ren) set the pace goes a long way towards a successful reunion.

Post-deployment is probably the most important stage for both Soldier and spouse. Patient communication, going slow, lowering expectations and taking time to get to know each other again is critical to the task of successful reintegration of the Soldier back into the Family.5,6 Counseling may be required in the event that the Soldier is injured or returns as a stress casualty. On the other hand, the separation of deployment - unlike civilian couples - provides Soldier and spouse a chance to evaluate changes within themselves and what direction they want their marriage to take. Although a difficult as well as joyful stage, many military couples have reported that their relationship is much stronger as a result.

I moved to Germany three months ago to be with Brandon. Since my arrival, we have spent more time apart then together. Do to field training and exercises. He has been gone for seven weeks from our home in another part of Germany for training.

What have I been doing? Good question. I will get back to you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

August Blessings

Typical days for us this month looked like this:
5:30 AM wake-up(yes, I do get up too)
6:00 AM take Brandon to work
7:30 PM Pick Brandon up hoping he will actually be getting of work.

What did I do when Brandon has been working?
Updating my resume, random errands, figuring out what I will make for dinner, working out, spending time with God. I have been filling out lots of paperwork to sub at the elem. school down the street. It is very odd not going beginning school like everyone else. I am not sure if I like it or not. When I see teacher getting their rooms ready for the year I am a bit envious.

On August 24, Brandon left for WLC that will last four weeks and after that he will be on the field for three more weeks. We were told he would be home October 9th, but now it is looking like the 15th. We are spendning seven weeks apart. Sigh. I thank God for sustaining me so far and giving me the right attitude with this seperation. We do not like it, but it is the way things are going to be for now. Brandon is able to call me each night so that helps a lot.

Before Brandon left for WLC we celebrated my birthday. For my celebration we had breakfast at a cafe in downtown Wiesbaden, I was given flowers, Brandon made me a cake and we had dinner at a local Thai restauraunt. Brandon planned everything himself. I love this man so much!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Goodbye Pot and Pan, Hello Calphalon

Our first shipment came today. No more pot and pan, only pans! Our shipment came at 8:30 and I spent the rest of the day unpacking. Christmas in August with all our wedding presents. Brandon was at work all day until seven this evening, so I had to unpack alone. The loneliness only lasted a bit with the comfort of having a few of our things. The rest of our things will be here two weeks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Government Issued Housing: 10 Texastrasse Apt. 3

This past month has flown by and where do I start? I have up uploaded some pics of our crib or otherwise known as Government Issued Housing. We live in Hannierberg Housing about ten minutes from Army Garrison Airfield (aka Brandon's place of work, post, Jana's Fitness Facility). We are just down the street from the Commisary and PX.

Here is a pic of our apartment. We live on the the second floor to the left.

A typical day for us? We really do not have a set schedule. The first week I was here, Brandon would get up at 5:40, go to PT, come home at 7:45, eat breakfast and leave for work. I was blessed in having him come home each day for lunch. After lunch, he would go back to work, formation at 4:45 and home by 5:00. Pick me up to go workout at the fitness facility. Come home, eat dinner, go to sleep. Pretty sweet schedule? Lasted a week.

The following three weeks Brandon started working till 7:00 and the 9 or 10 a few nights a week. He found out last minute he would be working Saturdays. I would love to share with you what he has been doing at work, but I can not.

I have been keeping myself busy doing random things. Study for my German drivers license, walk Bailey, workout, finding my way around post and cooking. I have applied at the local elementary school to substitute teach when school begins. I find myself going through the motions adjusting to this new lifestyle. This is my first time being exposed to the Army life and all it entails. The best part of my life is being with Brandon. It has been very lonely, as I am use to having a social life right away. This has given me a lot of time to talk to God and listen to many Podcasts on my Ipod. I cherish the time I do have with Brandon, because time together will be changing in the months to come.

Brandon leaves for his WLC class August 25. He will be there for a month and then straight to the Field for a few weeks. He will be gone about seven weeks. I will get to see him on the last day of his WLC for his graduation. Please keep us both in your prayers in the short time we have together.

On Wednesday, our first shipment will be arriving. Primarily our wedding gifts, dishes, bakeware, towels, etc. I am so excited!!!!!

When I first came to our apartment, Brandon referred to the second bedroom as "his room". This lasted a few days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What is in a Update?

Brandon and I live in a 2 bedroom/1 bath government issued apartment. I have no complaints about free housing and a roof over our heads. We live on the second floor of a three story building on Texastrabbe St. Yes, you read that correctly and it is one word. The closes thing we have to Texas on our street are the POV's(privately owned vehicles). Shipped from the States, courtesy of the Army. I can say that a Cadillac Escalade, Jeep Liberty, Ford Mustang, Chevy Tahoe look a bit out of place in Germany, but find a home under the name Texastrabbe St.

Monday was my first day at home as a stay at home wife. This is the first time in my life that I have not worked and it ok. Brandon got up at 5:15 am for PT(physical training) which starts at 6:30 on post. I decided to get up with him and begin my day at home. I made Brandon baked bacon and a smoothie for breakfast. Afterwards, I quietly sat down to get my first fix of Facebook. My virtual best friend.

Ah, Facebook. The virtual friend that is always there. I was first introduced to Facebook by my friend Kayla in January 2007. Then it happened, with a quick sign-up I was immediately connected and sucked into the world of Facebook. My first days on Facebook were just for a few minutes a day. Now, it is a different story. I have come up with a classification system for FB users. The casual, compulsive and addictive FB user. The casual signs in here and there, the compulsive is on 4-10 times a day. I definitely fall into this category along with many of my friends that are stay-at-home moms. The addictive, is one I would have to say looks at repeatively(or stalks) profiles obsessively.

Status updates. What is the point? In Urban Dictionary ( updates are referred too as FB Brag.
Facebook Brag- to post something on Facebook - especially in the "status update" section - that one would not otherwise publicly flaunt in order to draw the attention of one's Facebook peers.

What classifies a FB Brag to you? Think about it. As the hamster spins the wheel in my head I take it as this. I began thinking about status updates and personal meaning behind them. At one point on my news feed, five people were telling the everyone else what they were making for dinner. It is not so much sharing, but bragging with excessive adjectives. So how do I share with the FB community about my move to Germany?
Jana is moving to Germany,
Jana is living in Europe her first year of marriage.
Jana is jet setting to Germany, to begin her life in government issued housing.
Jana is moving.
Jana is moving to be with her husband.

Jana is moving to be with her husband. Life can not get any better than that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goodbye America, Hello Deutschland

For the past 722 days, America has been my home and in 56.5 hours I get on a plane to Deutschland. According to the United States Army, Germany will be my home for the next year. I never planned on living in Germany, but now that I am married it is kind of important to b with your husband. Brandon asked to be stationed there two years of with hopes of traveling throughout Europe. As soon as he moved there he found out his unit was getting deployed to Iraq. Yay, Deployment #2 over and done with!

Exactly, 27 days after our wedding ceremony I will be leaving Fresno. Home of the Bulldogs, neighbor of Selma( raison capitol of the world) too officially begin my life together with Brandon. This will officially be the first time in our relationship that will not be a part of the virtual, cyber world.

I drove Brandon to the San Francisco International Airport last Friday. We had plans that I would leave the US within in a day or so following him. On his orders we had the understanding that the Army was going to pay for my airline ticket. Only hitch was that we would have to drive to the nearest Army base to get the ticket. Nearest Army base to Fresno, CA; Fort, Irwin. If you look on google maps Ft. Irwin is about 45 miles into the desert from good ole' Barstow, CA. So after the honeymoon we hopped in the Jetta to Ft. Irwin only to find that the ticketing office we needed to see was closed!!! CLOSED!!!! So, we got on the phone with Luthansa and made reservations for me to leave Thursday, July 9th @ 2pm from SFO.

Bailey. The real hold up that is keeping me from leaving when Brandon did. She is my four year old Shih-Tzu dog moving to Germany with me. I got Bailey when I lived in Thailand and she is one cool pup that wears a funnel 24/7. Sophisticated world traveler. Truthfully, I am waiting for the Fed-Ex guy to show up by Wednesday with her travel documents getting her an all access pass into the European Union.

After being in the friendly skies for ten hours of my adult life, I expect to land in a cooler, wet, green climate. The best thing about getting off plane will be being picked up by my fabulous husband and make my way to military issued housing. My life will officially start as the Yost's Living off Post.