How to Prepare Your Family for an Army Deployment

Whether you are serving in the National Guard, Army Reserves or on Active Duty there is a good chance that you will deploy multiple times during your career.  If you are single, you only have yourself to worry about, but if you are married or have dependents, there are certain things you should do to make sure they are prepared for your deployment.  Listed below are my top 7 tips to prepare your family for an Army Deployment.

# 1 Get Your Legal Documents in Order

The first and most important step in the process is to get your legal documents in order.  Make sure your will, living will, and Power of Attorney are updated and stored in a safe place.  Make sure your spouse’s name is on your checking account and that they have access to the safety deposit box, investment accounts and banking accounts.  It would also be a good idea to review your life insurance coverage to make sure you have adequate protection.

# 2 Get Your Spouse Involved with the FRG

If possible, get your spouse and kids involved with the Family Readiness Group.  Introduce them to other spouses and family members in your unit.  Let them know there are other people in a similar situation and that they can talk with each other to share problems and ask questions.  If nothing else, help your spouse make a friend that they can get along with and relate to.

# 3 Set Up Facebook and Skype Accounts

Consider setting up a Facebook and SKYPE account if you don’t have one already.  Both of these platforms are very easy to use when you are deployed and they are a great way to stay in touch.  If you don’t already have one, make sure you buy a web cam.

# 4 Have a Heart to Heart Conversation with Your Spouse and Kids

Another great tip is to sit down and have a heart to heart talk with your spouse and kids.  Ask them questions and listen.  Find out what their worries and concerns are and try to comfort them.  Let them know that you love them and believe in them.  Let them know that you will come home safe.

# 5 Spend As Much Quality Time as You Can Before You Leave

Assuming you have some time before you deploy, try to spend a bunch of quality time with your family.  Take off some time from your day job and consider going on a vacation or just laying low around the house.  During this time off from work, spend lots of quality time together.  Have fun and build good memories.  Try to fall in love all over again.

# 6 Make a List of What You Do and On What Days

Another great way to prepare your family for deployments is to make a list of what you do and on what days.  For example, if you are the one who pays the bills, make a list of all your bills and write down when they are due.  If you take out the trash on Tuesday nights, write that down.  Be as specific as possible, so your spouse knows what they need to do and on what days.  Consider putting everything in checklist so they can reference it when needed.

# 7 Come Up with a Financial Game Plan

One of the biggest issues why Soldiers are away is money.  Since most Soldiers earn more money on a deployment than they do at home, it would be in your best interest to come up with a financial plan before you leave.  Visit your bank or talk with a financial planner and create a game plan for your family.  Consider funding a retirement account, paying off debt, or saving for your children’s college fund.  Having a plan will help reduce the financial stress while you are away.  In addition, make sure you have a budget in place and double check your life insurance coverage.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are seven simple things you can do to prepare your family for an Army Deployment.  The key to success is preparation and communication.  Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything in order.  Come up with a game plan ahead of time and involve your spouse as much as possible.

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13 thoughts on “How to Prepare Your Family for an Army Deployment”

  1. Planning is so important. I tend to try to ignore things that I do not want to deal with until they are right upon me, at least in my personal life. Fortunately, my husband is such a planner that this normally does not cause any trouble. I would be a prime candidate for needing the help of the FRG.On the other hand, I do love to help others who feel out of sorts. I would want to participate in the FRG as part of a social network to help families deal with a deployment or a relocation.

  2. I believe the biggest mistake a young soldier (or any young person) can make is believing they are invincible. Getting your legal documents in order is so very important! Naming a health care proxy, creating a will, making sure your final wishes are known – those things are never easy to talk about. Definitely make sure your spouse has access to accounts and know where all the paperwork is. As for the 19-year old being deployed for the first time, he/she probably doesn’t have much but facing the reality and responsibility of one’s mortality, though sobering, is yet another step to becoming an adult.

  3. This may sound odd, but the only thing I have to worry about is making sure my husband understands what it will be like to stay home. The ‘deployment prep’ he has done too many times before, this isn’t a new thing for either of us, especially for him. He knows what I am going through, he’s been there more than me. But, he’s never stayed home before. This will be 100% new for him, thankfully he will be busy with his new job, but I still feel for him. Staying at home sucks the most.

  4. Deployment is emotionally and mentally hard for both the soldier and their families. I remember when I was a child, there were times that my mother had to leave my brother and I behind. In those days there was no Skype or Facebook and no such thing as an international calling plan. It could be weeks or a month before receiving a 5 minute phone call at 4am. Having an honest conversation with your spouse and kids will go a long way in keeping the lines of communication as well as understanding open. Let them know that you understand and respect their fears and concerns, but also make sure they understand WHY you have to go.

    1. We do have it so good these days, with all the methods of communication, especially with Skype. I think it makes me appreciate what I do get, because of how hard it was before. I can’t imagine though, how kids go through it. I know they are resilient, but I am sure they don’t always understand their parent’s career.

  5. All these are great tips. Communication is very, very important. I really liked the part about sitting down and having a question/answer family time. Fear of the unknown can sometimes inhibit us from being the spouse or parent we need to be. It is a good idea also to set up those Skype and Facebook accounts. If your family is hearing from you on a consistent basis, it makes deployment much easier.

    1. An honest sitdown is a great idea, especially for first time deployments. Even for those who have gone through it a lot, it helps to sit down, because every deployment is different. Then everyone can get on the same page, which will help things be much smoother.

  6. Honestly, I’m not sure that any spouse of a deployed Soldier, or soon to be deployed Soldier, can fully come to terms with his or her loved one leaving to a war (or at least in our minds, a dangerous place, not knowing what he will be exposed to – war, blood, death, the list goes on and on). But I do feel that this post is beneficial for prepping the Soldier and helping him or her to understand how important it is to include, and inform the family about happenings and give insight into the future.

    But I think involving your spouse in every aspect of the process is important, especially if she is anything like me – emotional. If she is included and feels apart of the process, she will be less likely to be unnerved and scared.

    We have a 6 month old son, and I’m not sure if I could totally understand how it feels for the father of my child to leave and be gone for an extended period of time on a job or mission assignment. But I definitely offer my prayers and thoughts to those who are enduring this at the given time.

  7. I think that item #6 is critical, Chuck, and a great tip. All too often you have someone in the family who takes care of almost everything (bills, etc.) and when that person leaves due to military obligations, it leaves people uneasy and confused. A gameplan is the best was to prepare for anything…especially a deployment

    1. My least favorite thing about being home while my honey was on a contract gig, was having to do all the things he normally does. It’s one thing to do my usual stuff, but then throw in the other things, and it does take adjustment. Makes you appreciate the fact that marriage is a team effort, and nobody does it all alone (in normal circumstances).

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