Military Deployment Guide
MILITARY DEPLOYTMENT GUIDE
Deployments are part of military life and, whether it’s your first or your fifteenth, each deployment presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. However, there are ways you can maximize those opportunities and minimize those challenges. Here are several tips that can help you prepare for times of separation during deployments.
Make a Plan
Usually, service members know they are deploying at least several months in advance. However, there are still rare times when very little advance notice is given. That’s why sitting down and making a plan prior to deployments are important. Talk with your spouse about who will handle which bills during the deployment. Each couple has a different way of handling their finances, but the point is for both of you to be on the same page so that you can avoid any miscommunication.
Decide, as a couple, the preferred methods and frequency of communication. In this modern age of swift internet service, oftentimes the service member is but a quick email away. However, there are times when internet becomes unavailable. Discuss that. If you have a set Skype date once a week but, come Friday, you’re at home staring at a blank computer screen, don’t despair. Chances are that the internet is down for a number of reasons. By talking about this beforehand, you can avoid heartbreak. And don’t forget the thrill of hand written letters. Few things brighten a deployed service member’s day more than receiving letters mailed from home. In addition, discuss what kinds of care packages your spouse might like to receive while deployed.
Make a list of things that might crop up during a deployment. Will your car break down? Do you know your mechanic? Make sure you have their contact information. Do you have roadside assistance? If not, now is an excellent time to get it. Many insurance companies offer it. Make certain that info is not only on your list, but in your vehicles as well. Do you have renter’s/homeowner’s insurance? Where is the policy? Will your dog get sick? Who takes the pets to the veterinarian? Make sure you have their phone number. Doctors, teachers, family members? Make certain you have a list of all the important people and businesses and how to contact them. Put the list somewhere you can see it, like the refrigerator.
Discuss how things will be handled while one of you is deployed. If children are part of your family, consistency is important for them. While dad or mom is going to miss out on things during the deployment, work together as a team to come up with ways to minimize your children’s disappointment. Bring them into the discussion if they are old enough to understand, and make them part of the team. Ask for their input on things that pertain to their schooling, extracurricular activities, and social lives.
Try to take care of problems before they become problems. If you know the car needs new tires, replace them before the deployment, if possible. Finish projects around the home that have been left undone. Fix what’s broken around the house. Do it as a team when possible. If you don’t already know, learn how to perform basic maintenance on your car and home. Many little things that aren’t a problem today could creep up and become a major headache mid-deployment. Knowing how to repair/replace things will not only give you confidence and peace of mind, but it can also save you quite a bit of money. You’ll have done it yourself and don’t have to pay someone to do it for you. Conversely, know when a repair job is outside your ability/skill level.
Assign a Power of Attorney
Unfortunately, things come up. The water heater bursts. The cat gets sick. An elderly family member passes away. A fraudulent charge shows up on your spouse’s credit card while they are deployed. Having a Power of Attorney (POA) allows you to legally act on behalf of your deployed spouse so that you can do things as if your spouse was still at home. It provides peace of mind that, even if things go wrong. The legal office on the service member’s military installation can walk them through the process. Call ahead to see if they take walk-ins or if an appointment is required. Once you have the POA, put it with your other important papers so you can readily find it if necessary.
Attend a Briefing
Before a deployment, most commands will have a pre-deployment briefing for their service members and their spouses. While not the most exciting of meetings, these briefings provide a lot of good information to have. Finding a way to make time in your schedule to attend can be annoying, but it is well worth any hassle you may have in getting there. Be sure to take notes and ask questions. The command wants you to be as informed as possible. If you are uncertain when or where the briefing will occur, you can always go to the Chaplain’s office and they should be able to find the information for you.
Create a Support Network
Chances are that stress will creep up on you during the deployment. As the one who stays home, you shoulder the burden of your responsibilities and your spouse’s (as they pertain to home life). Sometimes, you can’t do it all alone and you need some help. That is absolutely okay. We all need a little hand up from time to time. This is why creating a support network is so important to your success during a deployment.
You may have a great group of family and friends from back home. Sadly, they may also be hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. They’re there to listen via internet and phone, but sometimes you really need face to face interaction. That’s where spousal support groups come in. They go by many names, but each command usually has one and, if they don’t, the installation itself more than likely will. Spouse groups are a great way to meet people, especially if you are new to the area, and they can help you get oriented. They will keep you updated about activities with the command, coordinate events, and generally be a good place to be with people who will go through much of the same things you’ll experience during the deployment. Reaching out to them and getting involved before the deployment begins can give you a solid foundation of support.
However, not everyone is comfortable in those types of settings. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just military organizations. Feel free to seek out community organizations that match your interests. Join a club, a volunteer organization, or create a network of supportive friends at work.
Remember, you don’t have to go this alone.
Be aware of your feelings as you get closer to the deployment. Many spouses have a tendency to pull away and distance themselves from each other in an effort to minimize the pain of separation. While this may sound logical in theory, in practice it generally leads to animosity and disagreements. This is especially important to note if you have children. They need to see a united front to know that you’re in this together and the deployment is just a temporary situation. The military has several organizations (service branch dependent) that organize and host seminars, workshops, and retreats for couples and families. The services are generally free.
Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy – http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrsw/om/CREDO/Programs/Marriage.html
You do not need to subscribe to any religious faith or doctrine to attend any of these workshops/retreats. If you have more questions, you can contact your family support center or chaplain for more information. It’s a great way to stay connected to each other before a deployment, provides a basis for continued growth, and keeps the home fires burning until the service member returns home.
Find other great tips on deployment, PCS locations, and base information on our web site: www.MyBaseGuide.com