Military Spouses Preparing for Deployment
It is difficult to prepare for a military deployment of a spouse, even if you have been through it before. There are so many forms to fill out, checklists to go through and considerations of even the tiniest details in your life, such as getting an affordable cell phone that will work overseas. Children are also a consideration, especially if they are old enough to understand the gravity of the situation; deployment during a time of war is especially stressful. If you’re a spouse of one of our nation’s heroes, the following tips may help you in the weeks and days prior to deployment:
Pre Deployment Tips for Families
- Buy a calendar that has plenty of room for writing on it. It could be a large desk calendar, a medium sized spiral bound calendar that you can carry around with you or an erasable one that you can put in an easily accessible place, like the front of your refrigerator. This calendar will become a place where both you and your spouse can write important pending dates on, such as getting those family photo I.D.s before deployment. Calendars are also helpful for children as they can count down the days before a parent leaves and they can write down their planned activities with the departing parent too.
- Make friends with someone from your local FRG (Family Readiness Group), the time to do so is BEFORE your spouse deploys. While many people may think they don’t want yet another group that they have to belong to, most FRG’s aren’t demanding of your time. Rather, they are there if and when you need them. No one is going to force you to come to monthly meetings or to participate in events unless you want to. Belonging to an FRG is a great way to find out about things that affect the soldier in your family, as well as keeping abreast of benefits that you may be eligible for as a military family.
- Get on top of your finances so both you and your spouse know how money will be distributed and bills paid during their absence. If you have separate bank accounts you will either need to put the other person on the accounts before deployment or have Power of Attorney papers on file with the bank, otherwise you may have trouble moving funds in the soldier’s absence. Pre-deployment is also a good time to re-evaluate life insurance policies and decide if there is enough coverage not only for the soldier, but for the entire family in the event of death or disability.
- Certain utilities may need to be put in the spouse’s name before deployment. For example, I personally had difficulty with HughesNet. When my router broke down I couldn’t order a new one without my husband’s consent, since the account was in his name, despite the fact it was my credit card on the account. Customer service advised me to have my husband call from the battle field to authorize the purchase. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Save yourself the aggravation and place any utilities either in both of your names, or switch them to your name only while your spouse is gone.
- Plan how you will communicate with your soldier while they are gone and include your children if they are old enough to understand the situation. A lot of children experience anxiety, especially just prior to your soldier’s deployment. They are worried about when they might see their mom or dad again, and if they’re old enough to understand about the war, they may be worried about their parent’s becoming injured or killed. This is why it is important to set up a plan on how, and how often, the soldier will communicate with the family, since planning will relieve most anxiety. Phone calls, emails, letters and of course care packages are all ways to keep in touch and relieve anxiety associated with deployment on both sides.
- Write out a Will. Granted, most people don't want to deal with writing a Last Will and Testament, but being deployed during a time of war requires it. Drawing up a Will isn't a difficult procedure, and it is important, especially if you have children. Take the time to talk with a local attorney and get a Will drawn up prior to deployment.
- Know where to get questions answered, before your soldier is gone. Nothing is worse than not knowing where to turn for help in your soldier’s absence. Aside from your FRG, there are other sources for assistance available to you. A great source of information is the website, MilitaryOneSource.com. They offer assistance on everything from tax preparation to getting help when you’re feeling depressed.
- Become familiar with assistance for your children while your spouse is deployed. Again, the FRG is the best local source, but there are other places to get assistance in helping children deal with their parent being deployed. Check out OurMilitaryKids.org, a website dedicated to children whose parents are soldiers in all branches of the military. They also offer grants for children whose parents are deployed overseas to cover the cost of summer camps, music lessons, sports and education programs.