Preparing for Deployment
Pre-deployment can be a stressful time for service members and their families. Whether you are a parent, a spouse or are single, making a plan prior to deployment is a great way to prepare for the road ahead. These preparations will ensure you are ready “to part” instead of simply ready “to go."1
Identifying resources and educating yourself about tips to successfully prepare will help you manage this transition. All of the military services provide service members with pre-deployment guidelines and checklists upon learning of their deployment.
The following documents provide tips and suggestions for successful preparation:
- Armed Forces Crossroads Predeployment Guide
- National Guard and Reserve’s “Family Readiness Tool Kit” [PDF1.61MB]
When preparing for deployment:
- Be Patient: Expect Conflict
Feelings of frustration, detachment and loneliness are common prior to deployment. Remember, these emotions are a result of the upcoming separation and not a reflection of your relationships with family members. Openly communicating these feelings to your support systems will benefit your deployment experience.
- Be Prepared: Discuss Before You Deploy
Preparing yourself and/or your family for deployment requires a lot of pre-planning and organization. Ask yourself the following questions when activating your readiness plan:
How might deployment affect my family?
- Will deployment require a change in how I care for my children? Will I need to consider hiring additional help, such as day care provider or a babysitter?
- Do we need to establish new roles for disciplining our children?
- Have we discussed how important decisions will be made while I am away? Am I ok with decisions being made without my input?
- Does my family understand why I am leaving for a long time? Have we openly discussed concerns and fears about my deployment?
Is my home prepared for a long deployment?
- Are there any outstanding home repair projects?
- If there were an issue, does my partner know who to contact and what to do?
- Is my house prepared for seasonal changes?
- Can my spouse take over the household tasks I usually perform, or do we need to arrange and budget for someone else to do them? Do I need to teach my spouse how to start a lawn mower? Check the oil or transmission fluid in the car? Change a tire or check tire pressure? Do a load of laundry?
What financial decisions might need to be made while I’m away?
- Do I need to share/write down any important account numbers, usernames, or passwords?
- Have I made arrangements to handle my taxes while I am away? If not, how can I prepare or how can I help my partner be prepared in the future?
What legal issues might arise while I am deployed?
- Have I filed appropriate legal documentation, such as power of attorneys, advance directive and will and testaments?
- Do I have appropriate life insurance to cover my family?
- Have I provided appropriate contact numbers?
How might my relationship be affected because of this deployment?
- Have my partner and I discussed how we will stay in contact during our separation? Have we agreed on realistic goals and expectations?
- Have we discussed how we will handle conflicts and disagreements?
- How will my partner and I handle intimacy disinterest or anxiousness?
- Be Flexible: Schedules Shift
The dates of departure may shift before your deployment. These changes may cause feelings of frustration to arise between you and your loved ones. Maintaining continuous communication and understanding will help relieve these frustrations.2
- Be Open: Value Growth
Families will grow and develop during long periods of time. Expect family routines, daily activities and social dynamics to develop and change during deployment. Anticipating and adjusting to positive change and being open to these transitions will ease reintegration upon arriving home.
- Be Healthy: Take Care of Yourself
Preparing your body for military deployment will help you endure the stress of combat and military operations.3 Prior to deployment:
- Limit alcohol.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
- Develop a routine sleep schedule getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
- Maintain personal hygiene.
- Keep active.
Adequately preparing yourself before leaving for deployment will allow you to focus on your mission as a service member. Your preparation prior to deployment will open the door for a smoother return home once your deployment tour is finished.4
- Ameriforce Deployment Checklist [PDF 228KB]
- Spouse Resilience Pre-Deployment Training [PDF 108KB]
- Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
- New Emotional Cycles of Deployment for Service Members and Their Families [PDF 136KB]
- National Military Family Association Deployment Checklist [PDF 20KB]
- Military One Source — Find service specific information on how to cope with deployment. This site includes webinars, podcasts, discussion boards and active duty-specific fact sheets to help manage military deployment.
- Navy Deployment Checklist [PDF 40KB]
- Army Spouse Shares Deployment Tips
1"Deployment," Armed Forces Crossroads. Last accessed April 10, 2013.
2"Spouse Battlemind Training," [PDF 108KB], Army G-1. Last accessed April 10, 2013.
3"Guide to Coping with Deployment and Combat Stress," [PDF 3MB], United States Army Public Health Command. Last accessed April 10, 2013.
4"Deployment Readiness," Military OneSource. Last accessed April 10, 2013.