deployment prep

Deployment Prep 101

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Preparing for Deployment is always a challenge — no matter if this is your first or fifth time. Circumstances change with each deployment, so be sure you cover your bases before you leave.

Starting Your Deployment Off Right

Whether you anticipate those deployment orders or not, when those papers drop, the rush to get ready to leave kicks in for service members and their families.

You have to coordinate with your unit, your family, your school (if enrolled) — and the overwhelming nature of getting everything in your life in order by a certain deadline is sure to feel crushing.

So while you likely know about getting your finances in order and setting up a power of attorney, there are so many other things to line up — and the sooner you complete these must-dos, the more time you can spend just soaking in that time with family and friends.

The Transition

Getting ready for a deployment is challenging — no matter if this is your first or your fifth time. Each deployment brings its own set of issues for you and your family, so be sure to get the support and resources you need to help ease the transition

There are countless DoD- and community-based programs out there to help you prepare for or get through a deployment or deal with the reintegration process.

These support services can assist you during the entire deployment process:

Command Communications — Your command leadership will provide information to you as efficiently as possible through a unit website, email, a toll-free number and/or an automated multimedia communication systems.

Military and Family Support Center — The Department of Defense and each branch of the military provides online information for military families. These websites will tell you about:

Services such as Military OneSource (specifically the Deployment section), the National Military Family Association , the Office of the Secretary of Defense Reserve Affairs and each of the military branch’s websites

  • Points of contact
  • Links to additional sources of support and opportunities to interact with other military families, such as the Family Readiness System
  • You can register on the Joint Services Support website at www.jointservicessupport.org/ to get information on resources in your state, online forums, eLearning opportunities, local event calendars, and information and referrals on quality-of-life issues.

Family Readiness Activities — Military commands typically host Family Readiness events to help families prepare for and stay strong during and after a deployment.

These Family Readiness events can:

• Prepare service members and families for deployment
• Sustain them during deployment
• Provide information and support for reintegration

At pre-deployment events, you and your spouse will learn about benefits and support, such as:

• Military pay
• Financial readiness
• Family care plans
• Family support through the military

Events during deployment provide information and outreach to family members to help with the impact of separation and connect you with other families going through the deployment. Family and deployment readiness means knowing and using the resources available to you. During a deployment, you may:

• Have financial or legal questions
• Need support for your children
• Have concerns about your emotional well-being
• Want to connect with military families

Military OneSource — This no-cost, 24-hour service is available to all active duty National Guard and Reserve members (regardless of activation status) and their families. Consultants provide information and referrals on a range of issues, and can help military families navigate each stage of the deployment cycle. No-cost counseling sessions are available face-to-face, online, or by phone or video. Visit www.militaryonesource.mil to learn more.

Family Assistance Centers — Family Assistance Centers are located in every state to serve geographically dispersed military families, such as families of members of the reserve component, who may live far from any military installation. They provide information, outreach and referrals to services in your community and serve all active and reserves service members and families. To find the nearest Family Assistance Center, visit www. jointservicessupport.org/spn to use the Resource Finder.

Branch Community Support Programs — Be sure to visit your local branch community support center, or Work Life Office. These Centers provide classes about resiliency and military life, support group information, and local installation information for you and your family:

• Army Community Services www.myarmyonesource.com/
• Marine Corps Community Services www.usmc-mccs.org
• Fleet and Family Support Centers https://cnic.navy.mil/ffr/family_readiness/fleet_and_family_ support_program.html
• Airman and Family Readiness Centers www.afcrossroads.com
• Coast Guard Work Life Field Offices www.uscg.mil/worklife/

Use the search feature at to find services on any military installation worldwide

Community Support — Look for support outside the military community — neighbors, coworkers, school personnel or leaders in your religious organization about any support services they offer or recommend

Support for Children — There are many forms of support available to military parents, children and
caregivers, including:

• Operation Military Child Care http://usa.childcareaware.org/feeassistancerespite/military-families/
• Our Military Kids www.ourmilitarykids.org
• National Military Family Association www.militaryfamily.org
• Military Child Education Coalition www.militarychild.org

Use these programs and resources to help your children cope with the emotions that can come with having a deployed parent. The key to a successful deployment and separation is planning. The time you put in now, before you leave, is time well spent to ease your mind about what’s happening at home while you are gone

For Spouses

Keep in touch with your spouse’s unit contacts. Visit the unit website or Facebook page often. Remember, there are many resources within the Family Readiness Systems to support you — chaplains, behavioral health professionals, the Military and Family Support Center, or Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

duckis in a row

To Stay or To Move When Your Spouse Deploys

Your spouse is deploying, and your first thought may be to pack up and move closer to your family. The change of scenery might be nice, your parents could help with the kids and you could reconnect with old friends — all great things to distract you from the deployment. Deciding to stay or move is a personal decision, and you and your family should consider how moving will affect the following:

  • Finances
  • Medical access
  • Family members with special needs
  • Employment
  • Children
  • Family time
  • Your military support system

Staying or moving should be a family decision. Before you call the movers, do your research and consider all the factors that could affect you and the family — make an informed decision. Consider these things when making your decision:

Your ties to the community. Maybe you already have a support system that can help you with potential challenges during the deployment.

Your children. Their involvement in school, sports and other activities will likely be disrupted if you move. But if you have a baby or toddler, parents or relatives might help you with child care.

Where you’ll live. If you plan to move in with your parents or relatives, discuss the arrangement. You may have good intentions, but sharing a bathroom or having extra cooks in the kitchen can be tough for some.

Your finances. Your bank accounts could take a hit if you move because you’d pay to move your family twice — once when you leave and again when you move back to the installation after the deployment. Moving or storing your possessions costs money.

Pre-deployment family time. The time before a family separation is precious. You may want to take a last-minute vacation or just spend those last few days or weeks together before your partner leaves. If you decide to move, you could spend time packing and preparing to move.

Your housing situation now and after you move. Moving could affect your housing benefits. If you’ll be renting when you move, your Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, may not be enough to cover the rent because it’s based on the housing market where you are stationed. If you live in government quarters, you could lose your housing if you leave, so check with the housing office about leaving your quarters vacant until you return after the deployment.

Special medical treatment or services for your exceptional family member. Specialized care and services may not be readily available in your new location.

—from Military OneSource