Talking to Family
Just as you are taking steps to prepare for your deployment, your family is mentally and physically preparing for your absence. Family members often experience a range of emotions, referred to as the cycles of deployment, from the moment you share your deployment orders, through your training cycle, during the deployment, and after you arrive home. Your family support center or Military OneSource provides excellent information on the cycles of deployment process.
Service members - do you want your family to know about the family resources and programs that are available to them while you are away? Don't forget to sign up your family, including parents, siblings, grandparents, and other loved ones, for your Service's family support program. Family members cannot refer themselves to the family support program - the service member must initiate the introduction. Each Service has a dedicated family support system designed to provide educational programs, social activities, emergency referrals, and other deployment support while you are away. See the Support Groups section of this article for Service-specific family support program information.
Some families merely survive the deployment while other families thrive. What is the secret to thriving during a deployment? Communication. Throughout the deployment cycle, good communication is essential to helping both the service member and family thrive. The form of communication (phone, email, webcam, instant messaging) will vary from family to family depending on your family resources and the location of the service member. Service members may be deployed in remote locations without access to technological services. Good old-fashioned mail is a big hit among service members because it allows them to carry a message with them and read it more than once.
After you have chosen the form of communication that works for your family and your deployment situation, try to provide some rough guidelines on the frequency of communication. It is unrealistic to expect your service member to call you every day, but when you tell your loved ones, "I'll call or write as often as I can" clarify what that means. Family members at home like to receive mail too! A helpful hint - when sending a letter, try to date the outside of the envelope. In some cases, adding the time the envelope is sealed may also be helpful. Mail can be received out of order and the recipient may not understand the message in a letter if it is received before a previous communication.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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