Deployment Overview

As a part of the military community, the potential for long deployments away from home, family and loved ones can be a reality. Understanding what to expect may help you and your loved ones prepare for and cope with the changes ahead. It can also help to learn about the many resources and support services available to you. Whether you’re a service member, a family member or a loved one, you’re part of the military community.

What is deployment?

On the surface, deployment may just seem like going somewhere else in the world to support the mission. But deployment also includes things like training, personal preparation, returning home and reintegration.

Who is impacted by deployment?

  • Service members across all branches of the United States military, including the National Guard and reserve forces, may deploy at some point in their military career. Understanding what to expect may help as you go through the deployment cycle. It’s a good idea to keep family and loved ones involved so they can support you throughout the experience.
  • Families and loved ones of service members play a big role in the deployment cycle as well. They often take on many of the tasks and challenges at home – being the sole parent, taking care of finances, handling the everyday responsibilities of running the home – just to name a few. When a deployment takes place, daily life at home can change drastically.

Is every deployment different?

The short answer is yes. Even if you’ve deployed before, each deployment has its own unique situations and considerations and can end up being a completely new experience. You may be able to learn from past deployments and build up your bank of deployment knowledge – but remember that some elements of your deployment may be different and feel new.

Deployment experiences also differ between active-duty personnel and members of the National Guard or reserves. Active-duty personnel serve the military on a full-time basis and can be deployed at any time. National Guard and reserve service members are not considered full-time active-duty military personnel, although when the need arises, they can be called to active duty and deploy at any time.

What are some common types of deployment?

  • Individual Augmentee deployment means deploying individually or with a small group to support a different unit or branch of service. For example, Navy service members may augment an Army unit. Individual Augmentee deployment may involve shorter notification times, additional training, less information and longer tours in places with communication challenges.
  • Humanitarian Civic Assistance deployment includes carrying out relief and humanitarian aid activities in a military exercise, training or operation. These deployments are usually overseas and involve responding to humanitarian crises related to health, peacekeeping, natural disasters and other mission areas.
  • Combat deployment is when a service member is deployed to an area where the U.S. Armed Forces are engaging in or have been engaged in combat. Deployment doesn’t always mean going to a combat zone, but it’s possible. In that event, every active-duty service member will go through focused training to prepare for the specific mission they’re expected to perform.

What are the phases of deployment?

The deployment cycle is divided into three phases. The more you know about each phase, the more prepared and resilient you and your loved ones may be. While different service branches may use different terminology, the overall cycle and series of events are similar across the board.

  • Predeployment: Before deploying, service members and their units go through traditional training and preparations, including medical evaluations. In addition to readiness trainings, briefings and evaluations, service members and loved ones prepare logistically, financially, legally and emotionally for deployment.
  • Deployment: This phase begins with a physical move from your home base to the assigned location or position. This time may be stressful and full of changes for everyone involved in the separation. Being prepared and understanding all of the resources available to you can make this phase easier.
  • Reunion and Reintegration: After deployment ends, service members return home and complete post-deployment administrative requirements while also reintegrating into family, civilian and community life. It’s important to be aware that life has been different for everyone during the deployment. Try to enjoy being back together as a family, and allow everyone time to settle back into place.

Where can I go for help?

Military and Family Support Centers provide assistance and support to service members and their loved ones to help meet the unique demands of military life. Centers provide a variety of help before, during and after a deployment, including things like mobilization assistance, information and referrals to helpful services, personal financial management, employment assistance for spouses, the coordination of volunteer opportunities, community outreach, family life education and crisis assistance. Military Family Support Centers offer opportunities for family members to connect to support and resources throughout the deployment cycle. Each branch uses a different name for their Military and Family Support Centers:

Immediate family members of active-duty National Guard or reserve members are entitled to use services at military installations. Visit Military OneSource to learn more about National Guard and reserve support programs.

Visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website to find the contact information for your local Military Family and Support Center, as well as other programs and services your installation offers. Then reach out for the support you need.

Still have questions or need help finding support? Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to help answer your questions and connect you with the resources you need to thrive. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat.