Deployments can be challenging for service members, their families and friends. Fortunately, having a detailed plan helps you and your family during the transition.
Whether it is your first deployment, or one of many, the following five tips can help you effectively cope with the challenges ahead.
1. Get Your Paperwork in Order
Start with the basics by gathering important documents and giving them to someone you trust like a spouse, parent, sibling or close friend. The exact paperwork you should gather depends on your circumstances, but may include:
- Insurance policies
- Your will
- A list of important passwords
- Financial information and statements
- Contracts and rental agreements
You may consider giving power of attorney to whoever you leave your paperwork with. Your installation’s legal assistance office can help you set this up so someone like a sibling or parent can handle important legal and financial affairs while you are gone.
2. Organize Your Finances
If you have a spouse or partner, make a detailed financial plan together. Set a budget based on your pre-deployment income that accounts for major expenses like rent, car payments, food, utilities and medical expenses. Also, consider using auto-pay to take some of the stress out of staying on top of bills.
Plan to make the most out of any additional income you may receive during deployment by allocating it toward debt paydown, building an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses like car repairs, or saving for major purchases, like a home. The Savings Deposit Program is available for combat deployments to help you save without the stress.
3. Prepare Your Loved Ones
While you may feel the need to “be strong” for each other, being positive and optimistic doesn’t mean you can’t discuss worries or challenges. Talk openly with family and friends about your upcoming deployment and encourage them to do the same. They may feel anxious or uncertain, especially if this is the first time they’ve gone through a deployment cycle. Honest and authentic dialogue will strengthen your bonds and help you feel connected even when you’re miles apart.
Finally, walk your family through chores you usually handle like mowing the lawn. This can provide them with a sense of security and confidence that they can keep everything running smoothly while you are away.
4. Spend Quality Time Together
Make the most of your time together with close friends and family by creating happy memories prior to departure. Although operational demands may leave little room in your daily routine, the following tips can help you prioritize quality time:
- Schedule a fun weekly night. This can be something simple like a movie night or miniature golf.
- Have dinner together. Sharing a meal provides an opportunity to connect.
- Take a vacation. Go on a weekend trip to the beach, go camping or have a mini-staycation.
5. Be Flexibe to Change
Expect routines, daily activities and social dynamics to change before, during and after deployment. Remember, everyone reacts differently so let them adjust at their own pace and keep an open mind.
If you are experiencing distress as the result of military service or other life stress, know that reaching out is a sign of strength. Talk to your health care provider or contact the Psychological Health Resource Center to confidentially speak with a trained health resource consultant at 866-966-1020. You can also visit our “Seek Care” section to find local military treatment options and available psychological health programs.
Lester, P., Aralis, H., Sinclair, M. et al. (2016) The Impact of Deployment on Parental, Family
and Child Adjustment in Military Families. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 47: 938.
“Deployment,” National Military Family Association. Last accessed April 22, 2019.
“Deployment,” Military OneSource. Last accessed April 22, 2019.