Thursday, February 11, 2010

Deployment Prep: The Big Meeting

NavyGuy's squadron had a big meeting for all of the sailors, chiefs, aircrew, and officers, and everyone's spouses and/or families were welcome as well. Oh, sorry, NavyGuy would want to correct me and say it was not a meeting, it was a "brief." The word brief in Navy aviation can mean many things and can be used as several parts of speech.

"I have to go plan for the brief." (Noun, meaning, I have to go prepare to give a big speech.)

"I brief at 1600." (Verb, meaning, I will be the one doing the talking during the big speech... at 4pm.)

"The brief was brief." (Adjective, but completely untrue statement. Briefs are never brief in the Navy. But the boys do wear briefs... okay, tangent is running a little amuck.)

Okay, so the pre-deployment brief ended up clocking in at just over two hours, plus a twenty minute pizza break. I took copious notes, which I'll share below, as well as my snarky opinions on each of the speakers and agencies that presented:

1. Chaplain - Emotional Cycle of Deployment
Oh good, let's start with the awkward stuff. Actually, the chaplain was concise and gave useful information that basically amounted to - "you are not going crazy, you are going to act weird for the next month until your spouse leaves, and then it's going to be hard while they're gone. Oh, and it's going to be hard when they finally do come back cuz you'll have just gotten used to living your life without their daily presence. Call the church to talk about anything - we're a confidential service so we can't tell your spouses' commanding officer that your family is stressed about finances." He showed a great emotional cycle graphic (I'll talk more about this in a later post), and offered a deep question for us to tackle: how will you grow your relationship during the deployment?

2. Fleet and Family Support Center - Paperwork and Resources
The representative from this base group was also an excellent speaker. She highlighted a lot of the paperwork that we'll have to address before deployment (everything from wills and power of attorneys, to budgets and military ID cards). She also highlighted several useful websites, and stressed the end-all-be-all word of deployment: communication.

3. MWR (Morale, Wellness, and Recreation) - Keep Busy
MWR is the activities and events office - everything from base bowling leagues to cheap tickets to DisneyWorld. Their rep missed the meeting, but the office is closely associated with the Fleet and Family Support Center, so that lady talked for them. Basically, her message was: this group is great at helping you keep busy, become a fan of them on Facebook because their own website is down at the moment, and keep busy. Did you get that? Keep busy. Cuz that will make everything okay...

4. Education Services Facilitator - women's brains are like spaghetti...
I have no clue what this guy was supposed to be. I think he's part of the Fleet and Family office, and is some sort of unlicensed psychologist, but I think he thought he was auditioning for Second City, because his whole 15 minute schpiel resembled a really uncomfortable stand-up comedy routine. He was ostensibly focusing on couples communication, but somehow he used an analogy that women's brains are like spaghetti (in that every various topic in life touches another, and therefore we jump from subject to subject confusing the hell out of men), whereas men's brains are like storage containers (in that various topics in life are separated into individual boxes, and they only deal with one box at a time). Baloney Sausage! Let's just start with the fact that spaghetti is a terrible food to use as the metaphor - it only involves noodles and sauce! That's not a cacophony of different things touching - that's two things! And I'm sorry, but NavyGuy is just as random during conversations as I am, jumping from topic to topic as ideas pop into his head. The whole spaghetti vs. storage thing lost my interest, and luckily the speaker wrapped things up fairly quickly (while also explaining his lack of using a microphone by saying it was too complicated... sure - he can handle my emotional well-being, but a microphone with one button is just too much...)

5. Family Readiness Group (FRG) - Sassy Wife Zings the Navy
The FRG is sort of a spouses' group for the enlisted and officer spouses (who do not traditionally interact much). The speaker for this portion of the brief was an officer wife who felt perfectly comfortable telling it like it is. But not in a good way. She started off the presentation poorly by announcing that the Navy is the enemy, our husbands are the enemy, and basically some days "we all hate you." AWKWARD! Of course some days I hate the Navy, but that's not something you tend to want to scream in front of 200 people... who are IN THE NAVY! It's one thing to be honest, but it's another to be condescending and sarcastic in front of people who don't really know you. Anyway, she wasn't even really prepared - she only had a few packets printed up, so most of us didn't get any of the handouts, and truthfully, I have no clue what the FRG can really do for me.

6. Legal Department - she said NCIS!
What a doozy. Obviously, talking about wills and legal matters is never going to be riveting for a group of non-lawyers, but the woman sent by the legal office on base had absolutely no public-speaking skills, couldn't keep a coherent thought in her head for two seconds, focused on the most inappropriate aspects of their job (spending ten minutes talking about divorce one month before a deployment is not inspiring...), and merely managed to confuse many of us who thought we understood the process for getting a Power of Attorney. The only fun moment was when she said "NCIS" and the Navy wife I was sitting next to turned to me and was all, why couldn't they have gotten DiNozzo do give the brief? Word.

At this point we took a break for pizza, and many of the younger enlisted guys snuck out the back. I think the legal brief was the last straw for them.

7. Naval Hospital - Pregnancy Rocks
The hospital rep basically reminded us of the important phone numbers and hours of the hospital and urgent care on base. Then she went on to list like 4000 free programs, benefits, and giveaways that pregnant ladies can get... I wonder if I can crash the "Budgeting for Baby" class to get the free tote bag... maybe I could claim I'm not very far along, not showing yet? (Or just eat a huge lunch and call myself 5 months...)

8. Navy Marine Corps Relief Society - ????
I must have blanked out during this guy. My notes literally say "Red Cross card" and "Thrift Shop 10-2, Tues, Wed." Hmmmm.... maybe NavyGuy was listening during this part...

9. Lt. LoveBug - General Overview of what the guys do
LoveBug, one of the other guys in the admin office that NavyGuy works in, got up to give a basic overview of what the deployment is like for those deploying. We got a five minute blast of where they're going, what they'll spend their day doing, how much they fly, and the calendar of dates when they'll be leaving... which is subject to change at any point in time (up to and including six seconds before they board the planes). I have to clarify with NavyGuy what information I'm allowed to share with the world at this point, so I'm going to err on the side of caution and leave this topic vague.

To wrap things up, the Command Master Chief (head of the enlisted guys), and the XO (executive officer... second in command for the squadron), each got up, said nice things about the spouses, encouraged communication, and thanked us all for coming. I helped NavyGuy clean up pizza boxes, we dropped some things off at the squadron, and then stopped for ice cream at the McDonald's on base.

I'm not sure if this pre-deployment brief is common for other squadrons or areas of the Navy - any other spouses out there who have gone through a similar meeting?

3 comments:

Michelle February 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM  

It is normal. Welcome to navy life. This is only the first of many boring pre-deployment briefs that take hours from your life that you will never get back. =)

historygirlie February 12, 2010 at 4:34 PM  

sounds as fun as an all day staff development. :)

Actually, there were some interesting topics brought up today...lots to think about and chew on...I'll fill you in this weekend.

YellowBunnies February 13, 2010 at 9:26 AM  

Oh my God, I would have murdered someone! That sounds like torture. You and the rest of the wives are saints! I mean, I'm glad there are resources for you, but they need to get some motivational speakers or something to tell you about them.

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