Staying busy, caring for self Keys to easier deployments

Elizabeth Malone, wife of Master Sgt. James Malone, holds down the fort while her husband serves overseas.

Janet Taylor-Birkey

In 19 and a half years, Elizabeth Malone’s husband, Master Sgt. James Malone, currently stationed in Southwest Asia, has deployed more times than she can count, she said.
To get ready for the current deployment, Mrs. Malone received two things from her husband, both to be used in a crisis: the name of the auto mechanic and a gift certificate. She laughed as she said she should’ve gotten the name of a lawn mower repair man, telling how the mower quit on the last pass as she mowed the yard. “It looks like the backyard has a mohawk!”
The gift certificate was for a one hour massage and European facial at a local salon.
Sergeant Malone, described as “just amazing” by his wife, presented her with the certificate before he left, with the advice, “You’ll need this sometime before I get back.”
Mrs. Malone has always found ways to stay busy during her husband’s deployments. Earning a college degree and caring for Andi, their daughter, filled the hours in the past. But she completed her bachelor’s degree in December, and their 15 year old daughter is becoming much more self-sufficient. She has now turned her efforts to job hunting and volunteering. Mrs. Malone volunteers at the One-4-All pet shelter and also with her daughter at the Reading Rainbow Room at the Matt 25 project in Clovis.
Mrs. Malone always looks forward to her husband’s return, but is also proud of the things she has learned in his absence. “You learn to be independent. In 19 years you learn a lot.” She said that it is fine to get assistance from key spouses and first sergeants, but “you” also need to do things on your own.
She told one story of a stateside spouse she helped years ago who had no access to the family’s money and did not know how to write a check. Mrs. Malone’s advice concerning family business matters is to learn to pay bills and stay on a budget.
Mrs. Malone also has advice for the stateside spouse’s personal care, too. Take care of not only your children, but also yourself, she said.
“Keep yourself busy. There are plenty of things to do. Pick a pet project — get to know the community.”