deployment military

Ducks in a Row: Making Your Transition to Deployment a Smooth One

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by Robert James

Whether you anticipate those deployment orders or not, when those papers drop, the rush to get ready to leave kicks in for members of the reserve component.

You have to coordinate with your civilian employer, 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 giving adequate notice to your civilian employer, and getting your finances in order, 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

Moving from reserve status to active duty is always an adjustment — and it’s even trickier when you and your spouse are also preparing for a deployment. 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 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, including those in the National Guard and reserves. These websites will tell you about:

Cheat Sheet:  A Soldier’s Guide to Deployment Health Assessments

Your health impacts your life, family, career, and future. Whether it’s your first deployment or your third, assessing your health is critical to your mission readiness.

This is where the Deployment Health Assessment Program (DHAP) comes in. DHAP manages the three phases of deployment health assessments (DHAs) that help Soldiers prepare and improve their readiness and resilience throughout the deployment cycle.

Below is a step-by-step guide through the DHAP program.

3 Phases

DHAs are required for all Soldiers deploying outside of the United States for more than 30 days.

Phase 1: The Pre-Deployment Health Assessment (Pre-DHA) is taken within 120 days and must be re-validated by a health care provider within 60 days before your deployment. The PreDHA provides a snapshot of your health to see whether you are physically and emotionally fit to deploy.

Soldier carries out his or her deployment

Phase 2: The Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) is taken 30 days before or after redeployment. The PDHA screens for any physical or behavioral health concerns that may have come up during deployment.

Phase 3: The Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) is taken within 90 to 180 days of redeployment. This final assessment captures any long-term health concerns that may have evolved over time.

3 Simple Steps

Each phase includes three steps: deployment cycle resilience training, an electronic questionnaire, and a one-on-one conversation with a health care professional.

Step 1: Resilience trainings. Resilience trainings are led by Master Resilience Trainers (MRTs) through Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness. These trainings help equip Soldiers with the behavioral skills that he or she will need to be ready and resilient for deployment challenges.

Trainings are held at most local Army installations. Contact your unit commander for more information.

Step 2: Electronic questionnaires. Individual electronic questionnaires—also known as DD Forms—must be completed during each of the three deployment phases. The pre-deployment questionnaire captures a snapshot of your health before mobilization. The second and third questionnaires screen for physical and behavioral health concerns that may have developed during your deployment. Once the DD forms have been completed, they’re added to Soldiers’ electronic medical records.

Step 3: One-on-one interviews with a health care professional. Once you have completed the electronic questionnaires, a medical health care professional will discuss in confidence any health concerns that you may have. If necessary, he or she will refer you to the appropriate health care service.

Completing the deployment health assessments is an investment in your total health. Make sure to answer all parts of the DHAs honestly to receive the care you need prior to, during, and after a deployment.

Want More? Visit the U.S. Army Deployment Health Assessment Program’s Web page at for deployment health information specifically for Army National Guard Soldiers.

Legal Matters

There are certain legal documents you must update before you leave for a deployment, and some that are recommended to have in one place for reference while you are gone.

Before you leave, put all of your important papers in a safe place, and you may consider scanning or taking a picture of each document and putting all of the files on a single thumb drive that you can leave in a secure location or with a trusted friend or relative.

Power of Attorney—This document names someone to have the authority to act on your behalf for any legal or economic issues while you are deployed. Be careful in choosing someone for this designation, as they basically will have control of your life while you’re gone. It is a good idea to set up your PoA for the entirety of your anticipated deployment, and add a few months, just in case your deployment is extended.

Living Will — Also called an advance directive. This details what medical treatments you do or do not want in case you cannot make those decisions known. You can name someone to make the decisions on your behalf, if you choose.

Last Will and Testament — Most service members know that they need a will prior to deployment, but even if you are on your third or fourth deployment, take the time to review your paperwork and make any necessary changes — particularly if you’ve had any major life changes (marriage, divorce, children, etc.)

Other legal documents that are good to have on hand include any legal documents that pertain to your family situation, to include birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce decrees or separation agreements, custodial papers, adoption papers and social security cards. It is also a good idea to know where your property documents (settlement statements, rental agreements, vehicle titles, etc.) and your insurance policy documents are kept.

Legal Advice

Legal assistance offices are located on almost every base, ship and installation. Every military legal assistance office provides free legal assistance to eligible personnel regardless of his or her branch of service. For example, a Marine can obtain legal assistance from an Army JAG, just as a Soldier can receive legal assistance from a Marine JAG.

If you have trouble locating legal assistance, or are not sure where the closest office is, you can search to find the office nearest your location by visiting:

• Armed Forces Legal Assistance Directory:

• Army:

• Navy/Marine Corps:

• Coast Guard:

• 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 site to get information on resources in your state, online forums, eLearning opportunities, local event calendars, and information and referrals on quality-of-life issues.

Yellow Ribbon Events and Family Readiness Activities — Military commands typically host Yellow Ribbon events to help families prepare for and stay strong during and after a deployment. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program 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 service member 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 other military families

After service members return home, Yellow Ribbon activities help families reconnect and readjust. Participate in these activities and get information on:

• Communication challenges
• Relationship stress
• Combat stress
• Department of Veterans Affairs benefits
• Employment

Ask questions and receive information answers from briefings and group discussions. You’ll also meet unit leaders, family support professionals and volunteers who will be important resources during the deployment. Check out Yellow Ribbon events online and Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. Getting support early — before concerns become problems — will help you stay strong.

Another option is to contact your local legal aid office or your local bar association to see if either offer free or low cost services to military personnel. Finally, find out if your state attorney general’s office provides free civil legal services to military personnel. You can check out the state-by-state listings of such programs on the American Bar Association’s website at www. home_front/directory_programs.html

—Compiled by AmeriForce Staff