When it’s “just” a rotation

“Rotation” vs. “Deployment.” Before this year I never knew there was a difference…or that it mattered so much to some people. But once I did I started to feel conflicted and confused. Not to mention it made me wary of referring to my husband’s rotation as a “deployment.”

If you have ever been at Fort Hood and part of the spouse Facebook group, you probably know exactly what I am talking about. Someone calls a Europe rotation a “deployment” (gasp. the horror) and ten wives are quick to dog pile on the poor soul and berate her that it’s a rotation not a deployment. I’m guessing it happens other places too!

Setting aside all the issues with people being just plain mean on Facebook…let’s talk about a rotation versus a deployment and what it means for the spouse at home.

Why is it a rotation rather than a deployment?

So I have, admittedly, not put a lot of time or energy into researching all the specifics…but the general gist is that a rotation is to a non-combat area. I’m sure there are a lot of other specifics, but that’t the general concept. In my head I think of it as a realllllly long training.

Spouses and families don’t get moved with the service member, although in our case we were welcome to visit though not guaranteed to get any time with our service member depending on their schedule.

For the service member there is of course a big difference between a rotation and a deployment. Accommodations, what they are doing on a daily basis, etc. For spouses I am not convinced the difference is as big as some people make it out to be.

The spouse’s side

In both cases, your spouse is leaving for an extended period of time. Six months to a year or whatever. You are home by yourself for that period of time no matter what you call the separation. If you have kids, you are solo parenting for that whole time…no matter what other spouses or the military call it. I promise you, the fact that it’s “just a rotation” does not make it any easier when you are by yourself and your toddler is getting on your very last nerve. Your spouses isn’t there to help out and the term used doesn’t mean a thing.

A rotation does have the potential for easier communication. We haven’t started the rotation yet, but it does sound like we will have more regular communication options than you would expect during a deployment. As a parent, being able to FaceTime more often and keep my son and husband more connected is definitely a huge benefit.

Another advantage of a rotation is that there isn’t quite as much concern for safety. A deployment comes with a lot more inherent risks than a rotation. Not that a rotation is 100% safe, but it at least seems safer.

But is it “just” a rotation?

Short answer: no freaking way. I still refer to it as a deployment, especially if I am talking to someone who isn’t involved with the military. And I am not sorry.

This might “just” be a rotation, but my husband and son are still missing out on a significant period of time together. We will be spending Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, our anniversary and so much more apart. Oh yeah, and he will miss the birth of our second child. And the first few months of her life.

I moved in with my mom while my husband is gone so I have help with my toddler. That doesn’t mean I am not taking on a whole lot more responsibility. It doesn’t mean Oliver doesn’t miss his dad.

So don’t let anyone tell you it’s “just” a rotation. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not justified in being stressed and overwhelmed by a rotation simply because it is a little different from “real” deployment. Because the feelings are valid. And not that you need my permission, but you are allowed to feel how you feel without needing spouse group validation!


Have you experienced both a rotation and a deployment? Were they really that different?


Facebook spouse groups are quick to shame someone for calling a "rotation" a "deployment." But does it really matter? I'm saying no. #deployment #milspouse #milspousemonday

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