It does not matter if you are preparing for your first deployment, living through your first deployment, or living through the most recent in a long string of deployments – they are never easy. In fact, they can be stressful for all involved.
While you begin every tour with the best intentions that the deployment runs smoothly, it does not hurt to be prepared. It is essential to ask for help before you are drowning – and there is support out there for you. It may not be what you think you need, and living near family is usually ideal, but it can help you when times get tough.
Here are some tips and information to help you make it through your family’s next deployment!
Six tips to help you make it through your next deployment
Take care of yourself
This could mean going for solitary walks, jogging, spa breaks, or visits with family or friends. Whatever form it takes for you, be sure to do it. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
Hire a Babysitter
This is part of self-care, as well. Trade babysitting with a friend, where you look after their kids, and then they look after yours. Hire a local teen for an evening. Most MFRCs have free childcare services available for families when the member is deployed – just call them up and ask!
Emergence Child Care
Speaking of childcare, don’t forget that emergency care may be available in your area. Before your spouse leaves for deployment, make sure to find the emergency childcare number for your area in case something goes wrong – like you get really sick, and your regular childcare plan can’t help. You can get the phone number from your local MFRC. You can also find out more general information on the service by calling the Family Information Line (see below). Most bases have emergency childcare services on call, just in case a family needs help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Sure, you can do it all yourself, but whoever said you had to? Ask for help before it becomes an issue. To access support services, you can contact the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546. It’s a free, bilingual, and confidential service that offers information, support, referrals, and crisis management. For counselling services, you can call the Member and Family Assistance Services (1-800-268-7708). It is a 24-hour/7 day a week telephone and face to face counselling service.10 tips to keep YOU sane during a deployment
You can discuss anything that is or could affect your well-being, including stress and burnout, marital and family issues, personal or emotional issues, drugs and alcohol issues, or work-related problems (including harassment or sexual assault).When the serving member returns, operational stress injuries (OSI) can develop, and there is support for those, too. Contact Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS), as they can offer support to families, find helpful information and resources, and more (418-844-5000, ext. 6040). It is a confidential service.
Visit your local MFRC
The MFRCs have all sorts of valuable information and resources for military families, and especially ones experiencing a deployment. There are courses designed to help families cope with deployments, from the lead-up, during, and the reunion; special events (often including childcare) for deployed families; resources, books, and other information to assist families through deployments; mail services so you can send parcels to your deployed loved one; and much more! Look at CAFconnection.ca for contact information for your local MFRC.
There’s an app for that
The app has tips to help you through the deployment, checklists to help you keep track of what needs to be done, receive reminders for mail dates, and more. There is even a countdown clock for you to keep track of the days, hours, and minutes until your reunion – you can even change it to the number of sleeps left until the military member returns home, which is an excellent option for young children. Search for “MFRC Deployment,” and it is available through Apple, Android, and BlackBerry.