Military Family: How to Deal With Deployment

Preparing for military family deployment can seem like an uphill battle.

For one, your Family Readiness team (be it an officer, group or other) has probably handed you a to-do list that is several pages long.

Add in the fact that there’s the inevitable family you’re going to have to find time to see , preparations made around the house and normal family life to lead.

Forget normal life. Deployment changes everything. And it’ll start happening well before that deployment even starts. The Military Powers That Be divide deployment into three phases: pre-deployment, deployment and re-integration. This is called the Deployment Cycle and, while stress and exhaustion may be true for the cycle in full, you’ll find particular stressors in play for each cycle.

Pre-Deployment Logistics

During this phase, you’ll be doing everything you can to get your family ready for the realities of deployment and the potentialities. Here’s a checklist that will help. At the top of your list will be legal, financial and emotional preparation.

Legally, you’ll want to get everything that may be necessary taken care of: powers of attorney and wills, particularly, and anything else your unit recommends.

While wills can feel morbid, powers of attorney might not seem necessary — and both may entail discussion that you or your spouse may not be eager to have. Talk to your service member about what kinds of powers of attorney you should have while he is gone. Should anything go wrong, including you losing your military ID or needing to break a lease, you won’t be able to take care of the issue without one.

You will need to make financial preparations too. Between hazard pay, combat pay, flight pay, or any of the other additional pays that come with deployment, plus the non-taxable income, your bank account will look drastically different for a while — and it’s important you don’t blow it all on a fancy new Mustang.

Prepare the Family

Helping your family get ready for a deployment is easier when you take the advice of other spouses who have done it.

Children going through a deployment experience many of the same emotions as their grown counterparts, but have at their fingertips fewer of the resources to combat those problems. Learn how you can help them prepare for the separation as easily as possible and, while you’re at it, learn how you can expect the rest of your family to take deployment too.

Prepare Yourself

This one could also be called “steel yourself,” because two things are universal about deployments: (1) No deployment experience is the same; but (2) It’s going to require a lot from you, no matter what.

Combat deployments come with an unshakable shadow and stress every infantry spouse can explain with a single look. But non-combat deployments can also be very stressful. The gist: Stress, no matter what.

Before your partner deploys, make sure you find several healthy stress-relievers to help get you through. They will likely be your go-to when times get rough.

Deployment

To state the obvious: Deployment changes everything. The problem is you really don’t understand how until you’re in it, and even after you’ve done one, you can’t count on the next deployment being the same.

Learn how you can prepare for the impact it will have on your marriage and your family and prepare for the effect an unexpected extension might have.

Take the time to prepare some family rituals in advance that you can do during deployment.

Get involved with your Family Readiness Group.

You may even want to consider moving home while your spouse is gone. If that’s something you’re thinking about, make sure you weigh all the options in advance.

If you’re new to the military, you’re probably shaking your head in confusion. Who’s Uncle Murphy? If you’re not new, you already know: Murphy’s Law goes into effect the minute your spouse leaves. The car will break. The newly replaced air conditioner will suddenly need to be completely replaced again. The roof will collapse. And you will lose your keys.

Maybe none of those things will happen to you (we hope), but Murphy’s Law is there all the same — and it’s something you at least get to laugh about. The good news is this: Deployment may be a heavier time in your life, but it will definitely add in some hilarity. We promise.

In fact, even though none of us likes deployment, we all cherish the feeling of how wonderful it is to have your spouse return after such a long time away. Take the hard moments in stride. And celebrate the return with all you’ve got.

Reintegration

Your spouse is back! Hooray! The world is wonderful, your family is whole, and you are breathing for the first time in months. Congratulations! Now, welcome to (another) hard part.

Reintegration is great, but it brings with it its own challenges.

When you’ve been apart for months at a time, both of you inevitably grow and change — and reintegration is all about growing back to each other. While it happens, you can expect some ups and down. Somefights, some passion, and the road back to shared household duties.

No matter how much we wish it did, reintegration doesn’t happen immediately. But the more you prepare for it and the rest of deployment, the easier it will all be.

3 Major Life Changes to Consider Before a Deployment

While many military families try to prepare the best they can for a deployment, it‘s nearly impossible to know everything that might happen. Between “Murphy’s Law” and any major life changes that might come up, it’s easy to worry about how to be proactive in preparing for a deployment.

This unique article will give you plenty of tips on how to prepare for those crazy, last-minute, major life changes that military life can bring. Use the checklist below to make sure you are ready and prepared during that next deployment.

1. Financial Hardships

Sure, your spouse may be getting paid extra during a deployment, but that doesn’t mean that financial hardships won’t come up. During my husband’s first deployment, I got locked out of our joint bank account. Never in a million years did I think that would happen and I was definitely not prepared!

  • Who will be in charge of the finances?
    • Is there a budget in place?
    • How will you make it work?
    • What bills (mortgage/rent, car tags, insurance, etc.) will need to be paid and how will they be paid?
    • Are you saving for something special? (post-deployment vacation, Christmas presents for the kids, etc.)
  • What should you do during an emergency financial situation?
    • Should you take out a loan or borrow money from a friend or family member?
    • Are there any insurance policies you should put in place now in case of emergency?

2. Travel & Moving

  • Where will your family reside during deployment?
    • Will you be traveling?
    • Will you be staying with family for an extended period of time?
    • Will you be staying home the entire deployment?
    • Will someone be coming to stay with you and your family? For how long?
    • What will you do with pets while traveling?
  • Will you be PCSing or putting household items in storage?
    • Will you be moving or PCSing before, during, or after deployment?
    • Do you have valuable item insurance?
    • Will you be putting your household goods in storage?
    • How long will your items be in storage?
    • What time of the year will your items be in storage?
    • Will you be selling your house or renting it out?

3. Emergencies

Emergencies do happen, but how can you prepare for them? The key is thinking about what could happen depending on what state you live in, your living situation, and more. Here are just a few emergency scenarios you should discuss with your spouse before they leave on deployment:

  • What should you do if there is an emergency situation?
    • Break-in or unexpected home damage
    • Injury or death of a family member
    • Car accident
  • Who should be contacted if there is an emergency?
    • Have a list of family members and friends you can contact should there be an emergency. Is there someone you could stay with both in your city and out-of-state?
    • Have a list of phone numbers for doctors, your insurance company, and local emergency services (e.g., poison control)
  • What if there is a natural disaster (flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake)?
    • Do you know what to do should a natural disaster happen?
    • Do you have the proper insurance coverage should a natural disaster happen?
  • What if you or your teen is in a car accident or the car breaks down?
    • Do you know your auto insurance policy?
    • Do you know who you would call?
    • Do you have emergency road services through your insurance?
    • Do you have an emergency plan or medical information in the car?
    • Where should the car be towed to?
    • Does your auto insurance cover car rentals?

The list above is just a few of the major life changes that can happen during a deployment. Overwhelmed by this list? Don’t be! Make an emergency plan now before your spouse leaves. Create an emergency binder or folder and have your emergency contacts, doctor phone numbers, and insurance contracts ready to go.

Military Family Deployment – How to Handle it

Preparing for military family deployment can seem like an uphill battle.

For one, your Family Readiness team (be it an officer, group or other) has probably handed you a to-do list that is several pages long.

Add in the fact that there’s the inevitable family you’re going to have to find time to see (I’m sorry, Aunt Gloria! We just can’t make it out there AND do everything we need to do!), preparations made around the house and normal family life to lead.

Forget normal life. Deployment changes everything. And it’ll start happening well before that deployment even starts. The Military Powers That Be divide deployment into three phases: pre-deployment, deployment and re-integration. This is called the Deployment Cycle and, while stress and exhaustion may be true for the cycle in full, you’ll find particular stressors in play for each cycle.

Prepare Yourself

This one could also be called “steel yourself,” because two things are universal about deployments: (1) No deployment experience is the same; but (2) It’s going to require a lot from you, no matter what.

Combat deployments come with an unshakable shadow and stress every infantry spouse can explain with a single look. But non-combat deployments can also be very stressful. The gist: Stress, no matter what.

Before your partner deploys, make sure you find several healthy stress-relievers to help get you through. They will likely be your go-to when times get rough.

Pre-Deployment Logistics

During this phase, you’ll be doing everything you can to get your family ready for the realities of deployment and the potentialities. At the top of your list will be legal, financial and emotional preparation.

Legally, you’ll want to get everything that may be necessary taken care of: powers of attorney and wills, particularly, and anything else your unit recommends.

While wills can feel morbid, powers of attorney might not seem necessary — and both may entail discussion that you or your spouse may not be eager to have. Talk to your service member about what kinds of powers of attorney you should have while he is gone. Should anything go wrong, including you losing your military ID or needing to break a lease, you won’t be able to take care of the issue without one.

Here is everything you need to know to get the legal stuff ironed out before your partner leaves.

You will need to make financial preparations too. Between hazard pay, combat pay, flight pay, or any of the other additional pays that come with deployment, plus the non-taxable income, your bank account will look drastically different for a while — and it’s important you don’t blow it all on a fancy new Mustang.

Deployment

To state the obvious: Deployment changes everything. The problem is you really don’t understand how until you’re in it, and even after you’ve done one, you can’t count on the next deployment being the same.

Learn how you can prepare for the impact it will have on your marriage and your family and prepare for the effect an unexpected extension might have.

Take the time to prepare some family rituals in advance that you can do during deployment.

Get involved with your Family Readiness Group.

You may even want to consider moving home while your spouse is gone. If that’s something you’re thinking about, make sure you weigh all the options in advance.

And then there’s the perennial military joke — deployment inevitably demands a visit from Uncle Murphy.

If you’re new to the military, you’re probably shaking your head in confusion. Who’s Uncle Murphy? If you’re not new, you already know: Murphy’s Law goes into effect the minute your spouse leaves. The car will break. The newly replaced air conditioner will suddenly need to be completely replaced again. The roof will collapse. And you will lose your keys.

Maybe none of those things will happen to you (we hope), but Murphy’s Law is there all the same — and it’s something you at least get to laugh about. The good news is this: Deployment may be a heavier time in your life, but it will definitely add in some hilarity. We promise.

In fact, even though none of us likes deployment, we all cherish the feeling of how wonderful it is to have your spouse return after such a long time away. Take the hard moments in stride. And celebrate the return with all you’ve got.

Prepare the Family

Helping your family get ready for a deployment is easier when you take the advice of other spouses who have done it.

Children going through a deployment experience many of the same emotions as their grown counterparts, but have at their fingertips fewer of the resources to combat those problems. Learn how you can help them prepare for the separation as easily as possible and, while you’re at it, learn how you can expect the rest of your family to take deployment too.

Reintegration

Your spouse is back! Hooray! The world is wonderful, your family is whole, and you are breathing for the first time in months. Congratulations! Now, welcome to (another) hard part.

Reintegration is great, but it brings with it its own challenges.

When you’ve been apart for months at a time, both of you inevitably grow and change — and reintegration is all about growing back to each other. While it happens, you can expect some ups and down. Some fights, some passion, and the road back to shared household duties.

No matter how much we wish it did, reintegration doesn’t happen immediately. But the more you prepare for it and the rest of deployment, the easier it will all be.