Deployment extensions can happen, and when they do, it can be difficult for everyone – including your deployed service member. Here are some tips that may help if you and your family are faced with an extension.
Understand Your Feelings
An extension means that reunion plans are put on hold, which can make you feel sad, disappointed, worried, angry or frustrated. These feelings are normal. It’s important to remember that the extension is no one’s fault – especially not your service member’s. Try to take some time to regroup before revising any reunion plans. Instead of dwelling on the deployment extension, focus on supporting your family, and on the future. There are many programs and services available to help you through this.
Use Your Resources
The Military and Family Life Counseling program offers non-medical counseling to help service members and families manage the wide variety of military life challenges, including parenting and communication issues, stress management, deployment adjustments and more. Counselors can also help connect you with resources and services. Learn more about confidential non-medical counseling services.
Your installation Military and Family Support Center is a one-stop-shop for family readiness programs and services. Offerings may include deployment support, relocation assistance, personal financial management, the New Parent Support Program, Exceptional Family Member Program, and much more. Services vary by location, so contact your installation Military and Family Support Center for more information.
Military OneSource is another great resource. It is both a call center and a website that is available 24/7/365 with extensive information about all the services available to support service members and families with every aspect of military life from deployment and relocation assistance, to parenting and child care. Whether you are looking for information, or want to speak with a consultant, Military OneSource can help connect you to the support you need. Visit the Military OneSource website, call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat.
Support Your Service Member
One of the best things you can do during a deployment extension is to support your service member just as you have throughout deployment – stay strong. Continue with your regular routines. Keep communication consistent and continue to write letters, send packages and be the support system they need.
Discuss It with Children
Talk to your children about the extension, and try to understand their feelings. Keep them in the loop as news becomes available. Inform the adults in your children’s lives that an extension has occurred. This may help teachers, instructors, coaches, school administrators and counselors understand why there may be behavior or performance changes in your children.
If you have young children, Sesame Street for Military Families offers a variety of resources including videos, downloadable information and activity sheets, and more. Check out their Deployment tips and products.
For older children, you might try the Military Kids Connect website. It offers engaging tools and games to help kids understand and prepare for military life. It also provides a safe online space for kids to connect with other military kids. In addition, the website offers resources for parents and teachers. Learn more about getting the most from Military Kids Connect.
Remember that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers reduced interest rates on credit cards or loans if you’re going through an extension. Avoid financial mishaps or stress by taking advantage of this benefit as soon as possible. Then notify your creditors. If your service member is part of the National Guard or reserves, let their employer know about the extension.
For more financial information and assistance, contact your installation personal financial management services office.
Seek Help If Needed
Emergency help is available through relief organizations for each branch of the military. These organizations provide support for service members and their families with low-interest loans, grants and donations. They can also help with transportation, childcare, food, rent, utilities and unforeseen family emergencies. Learn more about military relief organizations and emergency financial help.
Remember, you’re not alone during this time. If you’re not sure where to turn for help, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to connect you with the resources and support you need. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat.
Continue With Reunion Plans
Once you and your family have had time to plan for the extension, you can shift your focus back to thinking about your reunion. Plans may have changed, but if you keep the entire family involved, everyone can weather the extension together and be ready for your service members’ eventual homecoming.