With the holidays behind us, many of us see a deployment on our horizons. Over the years, the term deployment has evolved. Today it can encompass a course, IR, an exercise and of course the long-haul tours, where the member is away for months in a foreign country – which includes our ships sailing.
While the thought of deployment may turn your stomach upside down or have you holding back tears, the reality is, the better prepared you are, the less painful it may be.
While the thought of deployment may turn your stomach upside down or have you holding back tears, the reality is, the better prepared you are, the less painful it may be. And fewer tears will be shed. It may come off as cold, but the reality is you need to put on your adult underwear and take charge. Every ounce of preparation you do now will pay off in the long run if or when something goes sideways during the deployment.
The reality is being away is a criterion of being in the military. Military members earn their pay for the job they do. And their job consists of going to work, attending courses, participating in training and deploying on domestic or international operations. Often the training or courses are not where we are posted, nor are the exercises or tours, and that can be a bitter pill to swallow.
Our hearts may hurt, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to have the information on hand when we need it. This translates in to having a will, power of attorney, life insurance, family care plan, knowing our house and vehicle maintenance information, and knowing how to access resources available to us.
Make sure you have all your paperwork in order. This covers wills, living wills, power of attorney, life insurance, motor vehicle registration and insurance, health and dental insurance information, utility, and communication company information. Basically, anything that may require you to call and have something fixed or modified. This is a couple’s task that both of you need to do. When you go to price out a will or power of attorney, it may be costly, but they are necessary. Chances are if you have your will and power of attorney done, nothing will happen, and if you don’t, you will need one of them. Murphy’s Law. Call around for quotes. Some lawyers have deals for military families. As for all your other paperwork, including policies and information: find a safe place to keep it, like a filing cabinet, a filing folder, or a binder. You can store it on your computer, but I would suggest having a hard copy on hand.
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
- Utility Companies Information (gas, hydro, phone, internet)
- Rental Agreements
- Warranty Information (appliances, vehicle, furnace)
- Vehicle Registration
- Insurance (house, home, life)
- Health Care Insurance (SunLife)
- Dental Insurance (Great-West Life)
- Loan Agreements
- Car Agreements
Home and vehicle information fall under this category. Make sure you can quickly locate your warranty information, rental agreements, and home maintenance agreements are for your big-ticket items: furnace, water heater, dishwasher, washer, dryer, fridge, vehicle, snowblower, television, and any other items that you may have under warranty or a rental agreement. If you have hired a snow removal company, it will fall into this category. Knowing where the information is has come in handy a few times for me. While my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, our furnace broke. It was a cold December day where we woke up to a frigid house. Fortunately, we had just replaced it a year or so before he left and I remembered which company had installed it. It was a quick phone call, and they were over and fixed it quickly and without any cost. Again, keep this with all your other information.
Family Care Plan
According to the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, a Family Care Plan is a mandatory form required by the Department of National Defence. The idea behind the plan is to ensure families have something in place for their children in case something happens in the absence of either parent. To break this down, you need to have someone listed to care for your children in your absence. This can be a challenge, especially when a vast majority of us do not live near any relatives. Personally, our plan has evolved over the years. In the beginning, we had military friends listed to care for our children until one of our parents could arrive. Today, our oldest daughter is listed. The challenge for me is that she is in the military, too. But our two younger children are teenagers now, and in a pinch, they could look after themselves for a few days.
There are resources available to assist families through a deployment. I can not stress enough that parents need to take advantage of them. Some wings or bases have offered complimentary child-care once a month on Saturday mornings, or there is a drop-in, where you can drop your child off for a few hours so you can get a break. When we first arrived in Edmonton, there were very few resources available. I found a church which had free childcare. I would rush in on Sunday mornings, frazzled, drop my kids off in the childcare room, find a pew to sit in, and just be. Sometimes the sermon really spoke to me, and other times it was a relief not to need to think about anything – to be still. Both of my older children received the best attendance award that year. I also have done childcare swaps – just make sure the deal is even and benefits both parties. And I have taken numerous parenting course which came with free childcare. Remember, you need to have a break for your own sanity.
Mental Health Resources
While you may have a solid state of mind going into a deployment, it is a good idea to know what is available to you, if your mental health slides. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You have a few options when it comes to supporting your mental health. Personally, I prefer talking to someone face to face. I have used the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program (CFMAP) quite a few times over the years. Most of the time, it is when my husband has been deployed or upon his return. There is also the Family Information Line, local MFRCs, and of course, your health insurance plan through SunLife.
For the latter, you will need to have a note from your doctor to see a psychologist. Remember, looking after yourself is crucial. It will not only benefit you, but your whole family. While getting together with friends and complaining can be therapeutic, it can leave you stuck. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you have a support system that helps you find solutions, that is very beneficial. But if all you are doing is complaining and nothing is changing – that is not beneficial.