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Is Ignorance Really Bliss During Deployment?

There's no one answer, here's how an honest conversation can help.

A military truck ready for deployment. Photo by Edie Melson.

Is ignorance really bliss during deployment? I think that’s an issue for debate. Personally, I alternated between wanting to know all that was going on and wanting to know nothing that was going on.

During my son’s two deployments to the Middle East, I did my very best to avoid any kind of news broadcasts about the war. There were a couple of reasons for this:

A military truck is prepared for deployment.1.   The news was incomplete. I learned from my son that the government rarely shared the entire story. Not because of some sort of power trip, but because that kind of information could put our soldiers in danger if the enemy knew everything.

2.   The news was almost always bad. Let’s face it, bad news gets more viewers than good news. It’s an unfortunate truth, but since I was already worried enough, I stayed away from things that could make my fears worse.

Even as I worked hard to stay away from public reports of the war, I craved the information our son would give us when we heard from him.

I knew I couldn’t do anything about his situation but hearing about what he was facing made it easier. I knew that he only shared part of what he was experiencing, but even that little bit of info helped.

Usually our loved ones withhold information in an effort to protect us from worry. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable approach.

But the trouble is that each of us needs a certain amount of information to help alleviate worry, and the amount each person needs varies greatly.

So how do we get around this? There are several things we can do:

1.   First, we need to evaluate exactly how much information will help. And we need to know when that information will hurt.

Take some time to think this through. It’s easy to think we’ll be able to handle anything, but when those we love are away and in a dangerous situation. It may not be as easy as we think.

2.   Before our loved one leaves on deployment, we need to have a conversation about the information that he or she is allowed to share.

3.   Next, within the parameters of #2, we need to let our loved one know what we need to help us cope with the fears we’ll be facing during their deployment.

So is ignorance really bliss during deployment? I think the answer is yes and no. But taking the time to have honest conversations about it can make all the difference.

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