Advice for Deploying National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers

If you’re about to deploy, I can offer you some sound advice.  I recently asked our website visitors “What is the best advice you would give to part-time Soldiers about to deploy overseas?”  I’ve provided their responses below.

“If you’re about to deploy, here is the advice I would recommend:

1.  Make sure your will, living will, power of attorney, and other important legal documents are updated.  Give a copy to your spouse and a trusted friend or family member.

2.  Consult with a financial adviser and come up with a debt reduction plan and investing plan while you are away.  Consider getting a second life insurance policy.  Make sure that you come home in a better financial situation than when you left.

3.  Sit down and have a heart to heart conversation with your spouse and kids so they truly understand what is going on.  If possible, connect them with other spouse’s and kids of other deploying Soldiers.  At a minimum, make sure they are in touch with the Family Support Group.

4.  Learn everything you can about your job.  Find out what your duty position will be when you deploy and learn everything you can about it.   Consume yourself in your job.”

5.  While you are deployed, make sure you write home (mailed letter) a couple times a week.  Try to send an email every day.  Try to call via SKYPE every day.  Remember that the little things do make the big difference.  Technology makes this pretty easy to do.

I hope that helps. ” ~ MAJ (former) Charles Holmes, Creator of

“Stay connected with your family and loved ones back home. Time may “freeze” for you, but not for them. Built memories, maintain your bonds and create new ones. When you get back, you will not have to go in “repair mode” but rather pick up from where you left in that last letter you mail. And yes, write  letters instead of using e-mail, they are appreciated much more.”~ CPT Josue N.

“Immerse yourself in the position.  Request to be brought in on orders for as long as possible prior to deployment in order to better prepare yourself and your unit.”  ~ CPT Patrick D.

“Soldiers must complete required online training courses prior to ODT. Anti-Terrorism Level 1, OPSEC Level 1 and the online country studies are just a few of these courses that teach a soldier the fundamentals of security measures for traveling overseas. A Soldier should have his spouse involved as he completes these courses so that the spouse understands some of the basic security concerns while being deployed overseas. There are always predators that will prey upon someone when their military spouse are overseas. Cyber-Warfare has become one of the most immediate threats today. ” ~ JPO

“Personally, I have never been deployed myself.  However, my brother just had been deployed and I can provide some tips based on what he did.
1. SGLI – Ensure that the right people are on the paper as beneficiaries. This is the last thing you want to procrastinate.
2. Bank Account – I am sure you already have a direct deposit set up to your account, but make sure once again that your pay will be deposited to your preferred account.
3. Contracts – Call your lenders (Credit Card, Auto, Mortgage, and etc) and let them become aware that you are deploying. You do not want to pay penalty for late payments while serving the country overseas. Communicate with them. Don’t forget to freeze your cell phone either.
4. TSP – This is the perfect time to start investing for your retirement. To my knowledge, you do not get taxed for the money you invest in TSP while deployed. There is a limit, but you can still put a great amount of money.

5. Spend time with your precious ones! Now, I believe this is the most vital part of the pre-deployment phase. I have seen so many broken families due to a deployment. I believe in many cases, it is due to not spending quality times with close ones beforehand. Communicate with them, and let them know how much you love and care for them. Although I have never deployed, I have always communicated with my wife for a possible deployment, as long as I am serving in the National Guard.”  ~2LT Israel K.

“I would tell them to have faith in their training and leadership.  Soldiers have to realize that more often than not, the leadership wants to accomplish every mission possible while ensuring every soldier comes home alive.  The training that is put forth to soldiers is created by leaders that have been in combat.  Soldiers have to realize that they are being trained by the best and need to take all of the training seriously because it may save lives.  The best units I’ve ever been in were the ones where the soldiers and leaders all made an honest attempt to work together to ensure that the training was realistic and taken very seriously.” ~ 1LT Moses W.

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts?  What is the best deployment advice you could give to Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers?  Leave a comment and let us know.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
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  4. Military Pre-Deployment Checklist for Service Members & Families
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “Advice for Deploying National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers”

  1. I would like to suggest that the soldier don’t put off any unpleasant tasks just because they don’t want to deal with them. When a soldier is deployed, it’s easy to feel distant — emotionally and mentally — from family back home. It’s awfully difficult for a spouse to have a problem arise that you knew about before you left, but you didn’t do anything about.

    My niece had a problem like this with her deployed soldier husband. There was some mix-up having to do with his child-support for a child from a previous marriage. He knew about it and could have handled it before he left, but instead he kept putting it off until it was too late to do anything. While he was gone, it exploded, and who was left to deal with it? That’s right…the wife at home. And the funny part was that she had to try to fix the situation but no one would talk to her. They all wanted to talk to him!

  2. My friends and family members have been deployed for long stretches of time and if it wasn’t for technology (instant messages and skype in particular) it would have been very difficult to maintain connection. I learned a lot about the importance of staying in touch and now that I’m living in the middle of the South Pacific I make it a point to write a letters to my loved ones back home. Anyone can benefit from this sort of advice if they’re planning an extended trip away from home.

  3. Amy Skalicky

    I was thinking about this post earlier, and sometimes there is enough down-time to pursue online education. A soldier could consider taking some leadership training, or even online college classes. Keeping busy would help with being away from home, family and friends, and accomplishment is a great boost for feeling depressed, as well. Taking a class or training while deployed could even be turned into a bit of fun with school-aged children as well, for you would have that added conversation topic of “What I did in school today.”

    1. There is always time during a deployment to take classes, if it is a priority for you. All Soldiers get down time and every chain of command I’ve ever met is supportive about their Soldiers pursuing a higher education.

  4. All of the advice is excellent, Chuck, particularly financial planning points. For those soldiers who have families, especially kids, communicating with your spouse and children, as well as making sure they have a support structure, is especially important. Plan together, work together, and, as you noted, play together as much as possible. Acknowledge that the separation can be hard on a relationship, and plan for that. Relationships can thrive and even grow, even with distance separating you physically. It’s a choice, and takes effort, but is a worthwhile investment.

    1. Communication is key. While I was deployed the second time I called home every day, wrote home every day and sent an email home every day. That was before Facebook. The time invested was well invested. It made my relationship stronger. You have to do the little things over and over. It really does make a big difference.

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