What’s Next? Deployment Tips for Loved Ones

You’ve prepared for deployment and seen your service member off — so what’s next? As challenging as this time may seem, it’s also a great opportunity to focus on yourself, your relationships and what’s important to you. Here are some suggestions to help you live positively, stay grounded and handle separation during deployment.

Focus on the positive

After your service member leaves, you may feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster — this is completely normal. The good news is that this feeling can lead to a growing sense of self-confidence, independence and inner strength. Concentrate on what you can control and try to focus on all of the positive things you share with your service member, like a comfortable home, a loving relationship and the support of family and friends. Learn more about how to live positively while your partner is deployed.

Stay connected with your service member

Maintaining communication with your service member will not only help you cope during deployment, but it can also help everyone adjust after the reunion. There are plenty of ways to stay connected to your service member during deployment. Read the Staying Connected With Your Service Member article for ideas and tips.

Engage with the community

Take advantage of the wide variety of military support programs and services — like family readiness groups, deployment assistance, child care services, financial management, new parent support and more. Contact your installation Military and Family Support Center for more information about the Military Family Readiness System, the network of agencies, programs and services and partnerships to support your overall well-being. You might also consider joining the online Military OneSource Blog Brigade – military spouses who share stories and advice on a wide range of military life experiences.

You can also get involved with the civilian community through activities like volunteering, joining a religious institution or attending local events. Take this time to strengthen bonds with friends, family, neighbors and other military families — they may be able to provide additional support and a unique perspective during this time.

Establish and maintain routines

Try to maintain your daily routines related to work, fitness, errands, household chores and hobbies as much as possible. This consistency can make deployment feel more stable and less stressful. If you’re a parent, it’s important to keep your children’s routines consistent, too. Learn more about how to create and maintain routines and supporting kids during deployment.

Set goals

Setting goals for yourself can help you make the most of this time apart while also giving you something to look forward to. Goals can be short- or long-term, like tackling projects around the house or running a 5K. No matter what your goals might be, make them SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

  • Specific: Focus on what you’ll actually be doing or achieving (e.g., “run three times per week” instead of “get in shape”).
  • Measurable: Make your goals measurable so that you can easily track progress and know when you’ve reached them.
  • Attainable: Choose realistic goals that you can achieve given your time, knowledge and the resources available to you.
  • Relevant: There are only 24 hours in a day, so try to set goals that excite you, motivate you and will make you feel proud.
  • Time-based: Link your goal to a date, like your service member’s homecoming day. Stay motivated along the way by setting milestones and sub-goals.

Take care of yourself

To create balance and alleviate stress, take time to eat properly, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest. Schedule time for activities you enjoy, like hobbies or social events. You might try something new, like yoga, cooking or other classes through your installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.

Recognize stressors and how to address them

Stress can come from a number of places, and everyone deals with it differently. Try to learn to look at difficulties as challenges to be mastered rather than impossible obstacles. It can also help to pay attention to positive things rather than negative ones. For example, you might take time at the end of each day to remember the things you accomplished rather than the things you didn’t get to.

This can also be a great time to try some stress management techniques, such as keeping a journal, taking an exercise class, or practicing mindfulness. Military OneSource provides a suite of mobile resilience tools and recommended wellness apps. These free, mobile tools help you manage stress and build resiliency, anytime, anywhere.

Get help if you need it

If the stress of deployment starts feeling like more than you can handle on your own, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Talk with a close friend, family member or counselor. And don’t be afraid to ask for help with your responsibilities.

For more assistance, contact your installation Military and Family Support Center. They understand the challenges of military life, and can put you in touch with resources and services you need to help you through the deployment process.

In addition, Military OneSource offers free, confidential non-medical counseling for service members and families, as well National Guard and reserve service members and families. Confidential non-medical counseling addresses issues such as:

  • Adjustments (including deployments)
  • Relationship challenges
  • Parenting skills
  • Stress management
  • Decision-making
  • Communication
  • Grief and loss

Deployment is a challenging aspect of military life, but your military community is always here to help. Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7 to help answer questions and connect you with resources and services you need to live your best MilLife. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat.