Deployments can be challenging for everyone, including family and loved ones. There are lots of unknowns, and that can be difficult to handle. Staying up-to-date on your service member’s deployment can ease some of the uncertainty you may be feeling. Fortunately, there are many ways to get the information you need throughout deployment. Here are six ways to stay informed during deployment.
1. Talk to your service member
Although they might not always have access to the information you want — like an exact return date or mission-specific details — keeping in touch with your service member can help you cope with the separation. Communication is key to any strong relationship, and it’s especially important during this time. Learn more about different ways to stay connected to your service member during deployment.
However, communication can sometimes be difficult during deployment. Your service member may be in a place with security restrictions, or limited mail and internet. If this is the case, be patient and understand this doesn’t mean they don’t care or that you should worry. Try to focus your energy on some other way of connecting, like writing a letter or putting together a care package. You can also look to the unit command, your community and other reliable sources for information.
2. Communicate with the command
No matter where your service member is deployed, the command will serve as your official source for information at home. Knowing ahead of time how to communicate with key spouses or appointed members from the command can make getting assistance easier during deployment.
3. Try military networks
Depending on your branch of service, your service member’s unit has an associated support network. Some examples are an Army Family Readiness Group, rear detachment commander, Marine Corps Unit, Personal and Family Readiness Program, Air Force Key Spouse, or a Navy unit ombudsman. These organizations serve as an official channel of information for families. They can provide referrals, offer support and foster a sense of community through briefings and events. If you haven’t heard from one of these groups yet, don’t worry. Contact your Military and Family Support Center to identify your point of contact.
4. Connect with the community
Nearly every military installation has a Military and Family Support Center where you can access information and services such as child care resources, youth programs, counseling, crisis intervention services and more. Visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website for a list of programs and services at your installation.
In addition to official resources, friends, family, neighbors and other military families can serve as helpful “insider sources” during deployment. Talking to others who have been in your shoes can be comforting and may allow you to share perspectives, tips and experiences. However, it’s important to use official sources — like the command — for official information.
5. Use social media for positive emotional support
Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest can help you stay connected with your service member and the military community during deployment. However, keep in mind that social media is full of opinions, and these platforms may not always be a source of truth or positivity. Use social media that’s valuable and uplifting for emotional support, but steer clear of the drama as best you can.
For an insider’s look at military life, check out the Military OneSource Blog Brigade. Posts include a range of experiences from other military families who have walked in your shoes.
6. Limit news exposure
As hard as it may be to put down the remote, too much exposure to the images and stories in the media can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing, making this time apart even harder. If you do watch the news, make sure you know what you can handle. For some, watching unbiased channels in moderation can help to stay grounded. But for many, watching the news can raise anxieties and worries about your loved one and may not be the most dependable way to get answers.
Contact Military OneSource
The Military OneSource website is a great source of information for all aspects of military life – from child care and parenting resources, to help with financial matters, free, confidential non-medical counseling, and much more. Just use the magnifying glass search tool at the top of the home page to look for whatever topics interest you.
If you would rather speak to a person, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7 to help answer questions and connect you with resources and services to help you live your best MilLife. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat.