We understand that being called for active military duty can be a very emotional and stressful time for military families. Below are some basic tips on how to prepare yourself and your family for a loved one’s departure. In addition there are also some coping tips for family members.
While preparing to leave remember that the pre-separation period is a stressful time for adults, and particularly difficult for children who may not fully understand why one of their parents must leave. The following suggestions may help ease some of the stress of the pre-separation period:
- Talk to your child about the assignment
- Communicate your thoughts and feelings about the separation
- Be open and honest
Some parents worry that advance warning will only give the child more time to worry. However, children can often sense when something is about to happen and become more anxious if no one talks to them. Here are some tips for talking to your child:
- Encourage your child to ask questions
- Respond to your child's concerns
- Tell your child about the arrangements you have made
- Notify your child's teachers/caregivers
- Use simple terms
- Allow your child to express themselves
RETURNING FROM DEPLOYMENT
Return and reunion after a military deployment can be a time of tremendous happiness and relief. But the transition back to family life can also bring its share of challenges. Fortunately there are steps that both returning service members and their spouses can take to make the return to family life as joyful and stress-free as possible:
- Plan something special for each other
- Keep plans simple and flexible
- Make positive comments
- Show appreciation
- Make time for the family
- Take one-on-one with spouse
- Take it one day at a time
- Spend time with each family member individually
- Always talk to each other
Seek professional help if you think there is a problem. Some adjustment problems can be expected after a long or difficult deployment, but if the problems aren’t getting better after a few months, it is a sign that you may need some assistance. Don’t feel that you have to solve serious problems on your own.
Remember that talking with a professional can help if you or someone you love is having trouble adjusting to home life after deployment. The problem may heal on its own, but will usually get better faster with appropriate treatment. This is especially true if a combat stress injury is involved. There is no need to suffer in silence when appropriate treatment can help you get back on track.
Veterans Administration Readjustment Counseling Centers:
located in 207 communities around the country. Counselors are knowledgeable veterans who have “been there and done that” and can help with a wide range of issues. Services are free and available to any service member with a campaign ribbon, even if still on active duty. VA Readjustment Counseling Services can be reached by calling (800) 827-1000 or by visiting www.va.gov/rcs.
Your doctor or medical professional can help determine what may causing your difficulties and refer you to appropriate specialists for help, as well as prescribe appropriate medications if needed.
Each service branch sponsors information and support programs for service members and their families. You can call or visit any installation Army Community Service Center, Marine Corps Community Services, Fleet and Family Support Center, or Airman and Family Readiness Center regardless of your branch affiliation.
This free 24-hour service is available to all active duty, Guard, and Reserve members and their families. Consultants provide information and make referrals on a wide range of issues. Up to six free face-to-face counseling sessions are also available. Call (800) 342-9647 or go to http://www.militaryonesource.com/.
If you aren’t near an installation, National Guard Family Assistance Centers are available in every state. The Local Community Resource Finder on the National Guard Family Program at http://www.guardfamily.org/ will identify your closest center.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Family Programs at (571) 767-7595