How To Stay Safe When Your Military Spouse Is Away

How safe are you really being?

What are you doing to make sure you are staying safe while your spouse is gone?

As the wife of a Marine, I constantly hear “OPSEC, remember OPSEC!” If you’re unfamiliar with military terms, OPSEC means Operational Security. OPSEC is the term for keeping classified deployment and training information a secret, such as dates and specific locations.

Okay, I’ve got OPSEC down. Seems pretty easy.  But, what about my own personal security (PERSEC) when my husband is gone, either for training or deployment?

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There was one night in particular that I’ll never forget. I was sitting on the couch, reading a book. The kids were all asleep in their beds, and my husband was gone for several nights of instructor duties.

Suddenly, the hair on his back stood up.

His ears went alert, and his eyes stared down the front door.

His teeth barred as a low growl rattled his throat.

My dog; my sweet, snuggly retriever had instantly turned into a different animal.

He let out a loud bark and then started pacing in front of the door, continuing his low angry growl. He then began darting from room to room, letting out an occasional bark.

I was frozen in disbelief? Was someone really there?

I wasn’t about to wait to find out. I called the police and they had someone out to my house within minutes. Thankfully, the police officer didn’t find anything, but he continued to check on our house for the rest of the night.

I can’t help but wonder. Had my dog scared a potential threat away? I personally think he did.

I think we military spouses tend to forget that our husbands (or wives) are not the only ones who face potential risk. We do too. I might not be doing what my husband does, but I am his biggest support and a lot of risk comes with that. Our family faces the risk of being alone when he’s gone. We face the risk of being attacked simply because we are closely connected to a military member.

But, if we learn to practice proper PERSEC, we can help decrease the risk to our own personal security.

Here are five ways you can help keep your family safe:

INVEST IN A GOOD SECURITY SYSTEM

When your spouse is gone, you want to be able to go to bed and know that you have an extra hedge of protection around your home. Your security system could even be a dog, as long as that dog is alert and can sense danger pretty easily. I’m so thankful for our dog that night! He possibly scared off a potential perpetrator. If you’re able to afford it, however, I strongly recommend getting an alarm system that is run by a company who will be able to notify police as soon as it goes off.

Along with this, if you don’t have an alarm system, be sure you have the numbers for the local police/sheriff department in your phone, so that you can call them if you think you have a problem on your hands. Otherwise, just simply call 9-1-1.

IF TRAVELING, DON’T GIVE OUT DATES AND LOCATIONS

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It’s pretty much a no-brainer to us spouses that we shouldn’t give out deployment dates and locations, but what about when we’re traveling?  If you are planning to travel while your spouse is gone, keep your dates and locations off of social media. You can allude to the fact that you’re not at home. But, I recommend not even doing that.

Do not make it known when you are leaving, how long you are gone, or where you are going. Turn OFF the location “check-in” on your phone. There is no need to “check-in” anywhere while you’re gone. If it’s necessary for people to know where you are, they can contact you or you can let them know ahead of time. You don’t want to leave your home open to possible invasion, and you also don’t want to put your family at risk while you are traveling. Believe me, I’ve heard of several stories, especially ones involving home robberies (even on base).

DON’T DECK YOURSELF OUT IN MILITARY MEMORABILIA

A few things here and there are okay. But, just like our spouses are told to look like a civilian when in the civilian world, you need to do the same. Do not flaunt that you are a military spouse or that you are a military family. By doing so, you are giving away pertinent information about yourself that could make you a potential target.

Try to avoid using military specific bumper stickers or other vehicle adornment. Also, avoid wearing clothing that says things like, “Marine wife.”

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WHAT IS APPROPRIATE INFORMATION TO GIVE OUT AND WHAT IS NOT

This might sound like a silly one, but it is important. If you have kids like mine, then you know that they are more than happy to freely speak information that you would rather them to have not said at all. “I went into mommy and daddy’s room last night, and they were . . .” Give me a minute while I DIE of embarrassment!

Make sure your children understand that they are to not tell people that daddy is not home, where daddy is at, etc. If you have to, develop a code word that your children are familiar with. This code word is something you can say when they are starting to say too much. When they hear that code word, they know to stop talking and move on.

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LEAN ON FRIENDS FOR SUPPORT

I feel like this one is so important, which is why I saved it for last. Make sure you develop some good friendships. Your friends are people you are going to be able to call upon for support and help during the times that your spouse is gone.

Feeling like you are in danger? You can give one of your friends a call, and they can either come out or send someone to help check things out. Your friends want to help you and support you, so please let them! They will likely be the ones to help you get through the times without your significant other.

I know there are so many other ways you can make sure you are being safe, but I think I’ve touched on the major ones. Come to think of it, these things can be helpful in the civilian sector and not just for those in the military. Personal security is so important, overall, and you want to make sure you are practicing it, whether in or out of the military circle.

What are some other ways you can practice PERSEC to keep yourself and your family safe while your spouse is away?


*Luggage photo by Dana Bement Photography and photo of my son and me is by Elizabeth Diane Photographysignature-1

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  • Jen

    My biggest thing is not drawing attention to yourself with military stickers, etc. I have no decals on my car, no patterned military purse, it’s just so much safer that way.

    • I most definitely agree! That’s mostly what I was getting at with the military memorabilia part. I should probably clarify though, for those who might not exactly know what I’m talking about.

      I’m blown away by the “cammie family” stickers. I just shake my head in shock. People who have those are not only letting the world know that the spouse is in the military, but they are also telling everyone how many boys and girls they have and ages (if the stickers have baby, kid, and teenage styles).

      I just try to avoid any car decals whatsoever.

      • Bailey

        Same!!!! I don’t want to make myself a target. If you looked at my car, you would just see that I’m obsessed with Murray State! 😉

        • lol! No stickers for your cats?! 😉

          • Bailey

            Nope!

  • Bailey

    I don’t post about traveling unless someone else will be at the house while I’m away (like when I visited you in California, I was okay with that because Andy was at home.) I never tag myself in locations until AFTER I’ve left the location, and never share my routine (ie I go to the commissary or church on X day at X time, etc).

    • Ooo, I never thought about tagging the location after leaving. That’s a good idea! Yes, never sharing your routine is super smart!

  • I don’t think I could do military separations if it wasn’t for having my dog. He does not leave my side, when my husband is gone. I feel a million times safer with him around! When we lived off-post, having a security system was nice too!

  • I don’t think I could do military separations if it wasn’t for having my dog. He does not leave my side, when my husband is gone. I feel a million times safer with him around! When we lived off-post, having a security system was nice too!