Stages of Deployment: Coping with the Stress

How military families can cope with the stress of the three stages of deployment

Posted in , Jun 16, 2015

Guideposts: Edie's son, Jimmy, saying goodbye to his fiancee before being deployed to Iraq.

Deployment. This three syllable word brings with it a myriad of emotions—from fear to steadfast resolve. When we love someone serving in the military, it seems our lives are marked by three seasons—pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment.

1)  Pre-Deployment
This is what I refer to as the waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop stage. We know deployment is there. It looms just out of sight, casting a shadow on everything ahead.

Tips for coping:

  • Concentrate on the joy at hand.
  • ​Be deliberate about spending time together.
  • Share your fears. So often we bottle them up inside, but truthfully when we share them, they’re much lighter.

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2)  Deployment
This is trench time. Our loved one is far away—often in a less than idea situation—leaving worry and fear as our constant companion here at home. We can feel guilty about enjoying our days when someone we love is so far from home.

Tips for coping:

  • Take time to enjoy yourself. It will keep your stress level down and that will relieve some of the worry your loved one is experiencing..
  • Accept the help offered by friends and family.
  • Spend time reading the Bible and praying. This is the best place to find help. Go to the One who is watching over your loved one and accept the comfort on God can bring.


3)  Post-Deployment
This is the sneakiest time of all. We expect this phase to be perfect. Instead it’s a time of readjustment. Weighing ourselves down, and our loved ones, with expectations is a perfect recipe for disaster.

Tips for coping:

  • Include your service person in the planning.
    While surprises can be okay for some, most military personnel returning from deployment don’t find them enjoyable. For them, reintegrating into normal life, is stressful enough without surprises.
  • Remember that extreme highs are followed by extreme lows.
    This is going to be an emotional time for everyone. Be ready for the lows as well as the highs. Knowing that the tough times will come, makes it easier to cope.
  • Don’t forget to share.
    ​I had to constantly remind myself that there were lots of people who loved my son and wanted to spend time with him when he returned home. I worked hard to make sure I wasn’t monopolizing his time.

While we all need to learn how to live in the moment, we also need to realize that an uncertain future isn’t the same as a bad one.

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