Helping veterans and their families cope with deployment

By Robert Dingman, EdD, Director, Military and Veterans Psychology November 05, 2015

As Veterans Day approaches, we want to honor the men and women who have served, and who continue to serve our country. It is important to recognize their sacrifices and to acknowledge that their return to civilian life can be a difficult process. 

As trying as it can be for those who have served, deployment and its aftermath can also be challenging for the family members. During deployment, spouses and children must adapt to new routines and responsibilities while their loved one is away. Likewise, additional adjustments are needed when a service member returns home. While both these transition periods can be uncomfortable, maintaining a positive attitude can go a long way towards helping to manage stress.

Below I have included some tips for families to help manage deployment together. These are adapted from my article in Expert Beacon. 

Be flexible 
Think about ways to distribute household responsibilities before a loved one leaves, and slowly implement these adjustments when the deployment period begins. 

Communicate often 
Commit to staying connected in a meaningful way to your loved one. The small details of your day are often exactly what a deployed family member is missing the most. Make concerted efforts to share concrete details of your day and what your loved one might enjoy hearing about, rather than broad overviews. It is important for parents to help their young kids to do this, too. The deployed family member wants to feel in the loop, even when he or she is thousands of miles away. 

Get community support 
Use religious or military support group networks to share concerns or fears you have about deployment. Often, people in these groups can offer advice based on their own experiences. 

Stay active 
For anyone who is struggling to get through the deployment of a loved one, staying active can help to distract even the busiest mind for a little while. Whether you make time for yourself or get your children involved, devoting time to fitness, or spending time on a hobby or with friends, are great ways to keep your mind and body moving forward. 

For more information about military and veterans psychology, visit our webpage.