Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When a Family Member Is Deployed

Content Provider By Military OneSource.
Maintaining a family routine and tending to your needs and those of your children can be very difficult when a family member has been deployed for military service. Children and adults may experience strong separation anxiety and fear about the well-being of a family member. It's important to come up with a plan for coping with separation and the strong emotions that may accompany a deployment.
Families should prepare emotionally for a deployment and the stress it may cause by:
Agreeing on a plan for communicating . Talk about whether you'll communicate by telephone, e-mail, or letters, and how often or at what times you'll communicate.
Making a plan for being alone . Family members who are at home while a loved one is serving in the military may be able to deal with anxiety and fear if they make plans to take classes, pick up new hobbies, or spend time doing things they wouldn't normally do.
Looking into support groups. Many branches of the service offer support in the form of social groups, counseling, or advice. Look into what's available for your family.
Spending special time together . Take the time to be alone with your spouse or partner before they leave. It's also important for children to have individual time with a parent or loved one before deployment occurs.

Staying in touch when a family member has been deployed It's vital to have a communication plan and stick to it. If someone is expecting letters or phone calls that never come, fear and anxiety could set in. Regular communication is extremely important because it can raise morale and help families cope with separation. Here are some ways to make communication even better:
Be creative . Document a regular day in photos and send them to a loved one with captions. Create care packages with baked goods, silly toys or souvenirs, newspaper articles, children's school or artwork and video or cassette tapes of family members.
Write frequent, short letters. Encourage children and friends to send postcards or brief notes. Constant communication from home can be very uplifting for those who are far away serving in the military.
Don't avoid answering questions or write about rumors or gossip . Avoiding questions or passing along misinformation that may cause worry or fear. Try to keep communications full of news about friends, family, local events, and expressions of love.

Cultivate new skills or hobbies . Take a class or start a project you've always wanted to do. It's important to continue personal growth when a loved one has been deployed. Open yourself to new experiences and friendships
Keep a journal . Many people find that writing down their thoughts and feelings is comforting when they are separated from a loved one.
Offer empathy and support to others . Remember that you aren't alone. Find a support group or plan events with other families who are experiencing the same thing.
Seek support from your faith community. Many people find comfort and solace from their faith communities during difficult times.
Do something special for yourself and your family. Rent a movie or cook a meal that your loved one wouldn't necessarily enjoy. Plan fun outings with children during free time.
Seek professional counseling . If you feel like you can't cope with the absence of a loved one, contact your health care provider or employee assistance program (EAP) to find a counselor.
Ignore rumors . Many people have trouble dealing with limited information about the whereabouts and activities of a loved one during deployment. It may be difficult to ignore rumors or gossip, but it's important to rely on official sources of information when a family member has been deployed.

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