MILITARY MONDAY: A Whole New Meaning to “Deployment Prep”

August 27, 2012

“Deployment Prep!” Those two words mean a lot of things to a lot of people…but especially for women in the military. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when you are getting ready to deploy, generally the primary concern is getting your affairs in order before you go, making sure you’re prepared for what may come…

Some women have told me that they had an easier time planning their weddings than getting ready to go on deployment. Not surprising! Considering how many moving pieces there are, and how few of those pieces you can control. That being said, the questions I get asked by women who are also deploying are often not about the job, but about what it is like being a woman in a war zone. Everyone wants to know how often you can shower, what you do for skincare, what to bring, and rightfully so… These are just some things men don’t think about, mostly because they just want to grow massive beards.

That is not to say because women care more about personal hygiene, or like to wear mascara that they will be less of a soldier or not as good at their job. It also isn’t a knock to women who enjoy being deployed, for as one told me “It gives my face and hair a break!” and she’s right. You don’t have to worry about straightening, blow drying, coloring, highlighting, relaxing, over processing, or generally damaging your hair. On the flip side, you do have to deal with it hair breakage if you are constantly putting it up, but we’ll get to that in a later post. The biggest thing I want to stress is that each woman who deploys will feel differently about what they need to do in order to get ready to be gone for four, six, twelve months or however long it might be.


The first things I do before my deployment is make sure I have enough products to get me through two months of away from home. After my last deployment, where I was moving to a new location after a month or so, I learned that although a lot of places are great about delivering to APO addresses, if they can’t find you, it doesn’t help – for the record, and are awesome, conversely STILL has not gotten on board with shipping to APOs.

Whether that means going to Costco and stocking up on a massive container of body wash, or going to a salon distributor for my favorite shampoo and conditioner, I like knowing I have enough.  Another reason for bringing enough product to last two months? Depending on where you are going, mail may not come often, the Exchange may not be stocked (incredibly common), or if they are stocked, all they carry is AXE three-in-one, and ladies, you do not want to be using that on your hair. Trust me!

Here is where we get into the whole, “to each her own” concept and where it might be easier to prep for your wedding day than deployment. I have plenty of girlfriends who abhor the idea of not shaving, but don’t want to waste the time with already limited hot water.  Unless you’re at a large base where they have a “spa” (I use this in the loosest term, and again have stories for another post) waxing is not an option. Thus you are left with legs that will require a lawnmower upon your return or you fork out the cash for laser hair removal. Bottom line is no one really cares about your legs but you, and unless you’re working out, no one’s going to see them anyway.

Same thing with wearing makeup. Although if you if you show up with a full face like you’re going out for a night on the town, I am absolutely going to judge you. Some mascara, eyeliner, little concealer are totally fine. But there is no good reason whatsoever for having enough makeup on where you rival Honey Boo Boo, or any other Toddlers and Tiaras contestant. More than anything, it makes you look unprofessional.


So here are some recommendations prior to heading out, wherever you may be going:

1. Just like you’d take care of your will, bank accounts, kids, etc, set up those appointments for hair cuts/color, facials, mani/pedis, laser hair removal, waxing, etc. If you cut your hair short, remember you may not have time to blow it out or style it.  If you color it, try to go as close to your natural shade as possible. You will have roots if you don’t, and they will annoy you. Good on you if you want to color your own hair, I simply don’t have the time or patience this go around. On my last deployment, I had my mom send me out a semi permanent color, just because I couldn’t take it anymore. It happens.

2. Get all the products you want and need,  then get travel sized ones for the interim.  You could be going from Point A to Point C and end up stuck in Point B anywhere from 24hours to a week. It’s better to be prepared. I am a big fan of the Bliss Sinkside Six, and although they won’t last the whole week, they are better than most travel kits.  Plus they come in a spill-proof bag.

3. Take your travel kit and put it in some kind of a “go bag” you will have easy access to.  This can be a regular cosmetic bag, a few ziplock bags, whatever is easier for you to manage. I am partial to a hanging valet that I got as a free gift over the holidays from Henri Bendel. But your life will be MUCH easier if you have access to your toiletries, especially after flying for three days straight and you just want to brush your teeth.

4. If you can send anything ahead, send those big containers you purchased earlier. When you are restricted on space and weight, it is a lot nicer not having to lug 25 extra pounds of stuff. You may think, oh, it’s just a few bottles, is it really going to make a difference? Yes. Yes it does. When you are carrying two sea bags, a rucksack, a backpack, your body armor, a helmet, and a weapon, those extra pounds add up. Fast! Even after I sent things forward, pared down the essentials, I was still carrying all this on my own.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions. If you are working with all guys, ask if there’s a girl in the office who can give you some perspective. If there are no girls, ask what the bathroom/shower situation is. Oh, and don’t forget shower shoes. These are essential.

6. If you want to be girly, because that’s who you are, then be girly! Jus don’t let it get in the way of your job. You are deployed for a reason, and you should want people to recognize you for what you do than what you look like!

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