What should I know about preparing for deployment?
Preparing for military deployment can be a time of mixed emotions. Many Service members, including National Guard members and Reservists, look forward to the chance to do what they have trained for. At the same time, they may worry about the challenges of a deployment and about being separated from loved ones. Because there are so many details to attend to and arrangements to be made, preparing for deployment can be stressful, and even overwhelming.
“We are a dual military family. Somebody is always in harm's way — and that's stressful for anybody, no matter the age. I began to see that some of those issues were taking their toll on my kids, my husband, and me.”
What should I keep an eye out for when preparing for deployment?
Anxiety, stress, or frustration are natural reactions to significant events, such as military deployment. When getting ready to deploy, you may experience some of these:
- Feeling lonely or detached from your loved ones
- Feeling angry, irritable, or anxious
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feeling unmotivated or having a negative outlook
- Arguing with a spouse or loved one more frequently
If stressful thoughts and feelings start to interfere with your work, relationships, or daily activities, your physical and mental health can be affected, and it can be a sign to reach out for support.
What can help me cope when preparing for deployment?
As you prepare to deploy, there are steps you can take to reduce stress. A healthy lifestyle and staying physically and emotionally fit can improve your overall well-being and help you cope effectively. You may also find it helpful to:
- Create a deployment plan to help decrease some of the uncertainty for you and your family.
- Try to plan a realistic schedule for communicating with your loved ones.
- Take advantage of offers from friends and other members of your community to help during your deployment.
- Decide before you leave what types of things you will want to talk about during deployment and what you might not want to talk about until you get back home.
- Exercise, eat well, and stay healthy.
- Relieve stress through relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or prayer.
- Reach out to family or friends if you’re feeling down.
- Try to get a good night’s sleep; getting quality sleep can help you feel better.
- Avoid using alcohol to cope with stress or anxiety.
Talking to your family and friends about your experiences can be helpful as you deal with your transition. You might also try talking to fellow Service members about what you’re experiencing. They may have a better understanding of what you are going through and may be able to provide you with support and suggestions for a smoother transition to your deployment.
Take the next step: Make the connection.
Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with proven resources, services, and support to address the issues affecting their lives. If preparing for military deployment is interfering with your health and well-being or is getting in the way of your relationships, daily activities, or work, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:
- Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Service members or can refer you to someone who does.
- A mental health professional
- Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
- A spiritual or religious adviser
Explore these resources for helping Service members cope when preparing for deployment.
Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to prelaring for deployment, such as trouble sleeping, feeling on edge, relationship problems, anger and irritability, anxiety disorders, and depression.
This U.S. Department of Defense program provides assistance for Service members and their families who may need support when preparing for deployment. This site is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there is no charge for these services.
Featuring real stories of Service members who have reached out for support, this campaign was launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery, and supporting reintegration of returning Service members, Veterans, and their families.
VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Having trouble coping with your upcoming military deployment over an extended period of time could be associated with health-related conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA's Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.