Deployment Survival Tips for Military Spouses & Dependents

In today’s article, I’d like to share some of my best deployment survival tips for military spouses and dependents.

If you’ve spent any time in the military, either as a dependent or service member, you can expect a deployment. Especially in today’s shrinking military, more and more service members are expected to deploy. This includes Active-Duty and Reserve forces.

From personal experience, I can tell you that PREPARATION is the key to a successful deployment. As a spouse or family member, there are certain things you should do, to be prepared for a deployment. Those are the things I’d like to share in this article.

One to six weeks into the deployment, you and your family might feel as though your worlds have been turned upside-down. Experts refer to this as emotional disorganization. This is largely due to the disruption in your family’s every-day routine, which can leave you and your children feeling pretty overwhelmed. You may find yourself shouldering more responsibilities while flying solo, so be cautious of all the plates you’re spinning. Always remember that it’s ok to say no to extra commitments over the next few months. It’s very possible you’ll feel disorganized or depressed in the beginning, and you don’t want to burn out so early on in the deployment. ~ National Military Family Association

Deployment Survival Tips for Military Spouses & Dependents

What I’d like to do in the following paragraphs is share a few of my best deployment survival tips for spouses and dependents. Having your loved one gone for a long period of time is stressful and difficult. There are so many things to worry about. Fortunately, being “prepared” ahead of time makes life a lot easier.

#1: Be Mentally Prepared

Never get to comfortable and think your “military spouse” couldn’t get deployed. Just because your spouse is in a “cushy” job, or is assigned to a non-deployable unit, anything can happen, even when you least expect it. At a minimum, keep the thought in the back of your mind. That way, when you get the call, it won’t be the end of the world for you.

# 2: Develop a Game-Plan

Before your spouse deploys, develop your game-plan. Who will be in charge of the finances while they are away? Will you stay in your current residence or move back in with your parents until your spouse returns? What will you do for employment? What is the family care plan for the children? Try to address these big issues PRIOR to getting deployment orders. Talk about it with your spouse. If possible, draft everything up in a simple one or two page deployment plan and file it away in a safe place.

Budgets don’t need to be complicated. Grab a pen and paper and write out your expenses and income. Mark off necessities that need to be paid first like rent, food, and gas. When making a budget, make sure every dollar you earn is put into a category. EveryDollar is a great free tool to help you stick to a budget, and both of you can access it any time. ~ Sandboxx

Deployment Survival Tips for Military Spouses

# 3: Don’t be Resentful

If your spouse deploys, don’t be resentful or hold it against them. In most cases, you knew this could happen, before you got married. Try to look for the positive in things. Whatever you do, don’t think your spouse is having a “vacation” on their deployment while you are stuck doing everything at home. Most deployments require long work hours and come with lots of stress. They are by no means fun.

# 4: Communicate Often

During the deployment communicate often. Stay in touch once per day, if possible. Social media and the Internet make this easy to do. Don’t go long periods of time without talking. Absence might make the heart grow fonder, but long periods of time without talking isn’t good!

Explore options such as email, phone calls, video-chat and regular mail. Talk about which forms of communication make you feel closest and which options are most easily accessible. ~ Military One Source

# 5: Create a Support Group

If your spouse is deployed, you need your own support group. You can utilize the unit’s Family Readiness Group, or create your own support group. At a minimum, try to find another spouse of the same gender to form a friendship with. That way, you will have a lot in common with the person and can help each other out.

# 6: Start Your Countdown

One simple thing you can do while your spouse is deployed is to start a countdown. Create a countdown to when they will come home on leave and when they will be home for good. Update your countdown counter each day and let this be your motivation to waking up each day (being one day closer). Share “how many days and a wake-up” there are left every time you talk with your spouse.

# 7: Keep a Journal

While your spouse is deployed, consider keeping a journal. Take 10-15 minutes each day to write down your thoughts and feelings. You could share this with your spouse when they return, or keep it to yourself. This is a great way to express your feelings and get things off your chest.

You may want to keep an online journal with pictures your spouse can access over the internet. This is a great way to nurture your love while keeping your spouse up-to-date on life at home. Just be sure the journal is private, since you don’t want your life’s details available to the public. ~ Military One Source

# 8:  Take Care of Yourself

Don’t neglect your physical and mental health while your spouse is deployed. Exercise regularly. Maintain a healthy diet. Get plenty of rest. Avoid isolation if possible. If you are feeling depressed or down, get help from the Chaplain, your psychologist, or from a good friend.

That’s why Soldiers depend so much on the support available to them through family readiness groups and others. It’s that support, and the support of other spouses that helps military families cope. ~

# 9: Adopt a Pet

This might not apply to everyone, but adopting a pet is great for your mental health and loneliness. Visit your local animal shelter and look for a cat or dog. They will give you great companionship while your spouse is away.

# 10: Learn a New Skill

While your spouse is deployed, why not learn a new skill? You could sign up for some classes at your local community college. Or you could pick a new hobby that interests you. This will keep you busy and ensure you have less time to mope around and be depressed.

Staying busy during a deployment is a must. You want to have things to do so you don’t get bored. When you are bored during a deployment, you can start to get down on yourself. While you will always be missing your spouse, boredom brings that to another level. ~ Military Families

Keep a journal

# 11: Avoid Negativity

Don’t gossip. Avoid negativity. Don’t let the news and social media bring you down. Look for the positive in things and think of the things you have to be grateful for.

# 12: Volunteer

Get involved in your local community. Whether it’s your church, a civic organization, or just something you are passionate about, volunteer your time. This will give you a purpose and sense of belonging while your spouse or loved one is away.

Stay busy, by volunteering in particular. Being part of something positive and helping others helps keep your mind off your own problems. The “good feeling” from helping others is THE BEST MEDICINE and is what has always gotten me through tough times. ~ Military Spouse

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are twelve helpful deployment survival tips for military spouses. The deployment and time apart from each other won’t be easy, but if you follow the advice mentioned above, you can keep your marriage strong and survive the deployment.

Do you have any additional deployment survival tips for military spouses you would like to share? Any questions? If so, feel free to leave a comment and post them below. Thanks.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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1 thought on “Deployment Survival Tips for Military Spouses & Dependents”

  1. Johndel Callora

    ACCEPTANCE is really one of the things that every spouse should learn before deployment. They need to accept the fact that their partners are doing something huge, not just for them but to all the people in their beloved country.

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