From the moment your Soldier (or Soldier in Training) expressed their interest in joining the armed forces, you’ve probably been thinking about one thing: deployments. It’s a tough situation. You’re proud of your loved one’s drive and commitment to serving, but you realize his or her journey isn’t going to be easy on you and your family.
While no deployment is ever easy on a Soldier or his/her loved ones, there are some things that you can do to turn it into the most positive experience possible, for both your Soldier and yourself.
Before they leave:
Ask as many questions as you can
There’s no such thing as a standard deployment anymore - each instance is entirely different. Make sure you set aside time to talk to your Soldier about where he/she will be going, how you will be able to communicate, what a typical day or week might look like, how to get in contact in case of an emergency, and what information on their whereabouts is allowed to be disclosed to whom. Don’t be afraid to write down any questions you may have to lessen the anxiety of remembering it all.
Come up with a communication plan
Determine the best course of action for both you and your Soldier when it comes to communication. Frequency and means of communication will depend on your Soldier’s location, availability, and potentially a variety of other factors. Setting expectations and coming up with a plan that works for both of you will help ease the transition.
Talk to your family and friends
Whether the Soldier deploying is your spouse, partner, child, best friend, or other family member, you’re going to want as much support as possible throughout the duration of the deployment. Talk to your friends and other family members about it and be open and honest with them. If you’re going to need help caring for your children, fun plans to get your mind off of the deployment, or just a little bit of extra love, ask for it. You will probably find that many people want to be there for you but they don’t know how. Tell your loved ones exactly what you need to make it easier on everyone.
Think of fun ways to stay connected while your Soldier is overseas
There are many ways to stay connected even though your Soldier might be thousands of miles away. Reading the same book, watching the same tv series, playing video games together, or planning a post-deployment trip together might do the trick for you, or maybe there’s something else better suited to keep you and your loved one connected.
Make new memories together
Before your Soldier flies out, make some great new memories together by doing some of the things you’ve always talked about wanting to try. Take lots of photos for your Soldier to pack, or make a calendar for him or her to take. Photos also make a great liner for care packages!What else have you done to prepare for deployment that made it a positive experience for you? Share in the comments to help a fellow family member out!