Before You Go: Preparing for Deployment


What’s the upside to starting a deployment? Getting it over with!

Before a deployment, my husband and I work together on getting ready for the inevitable, and that includes a lot of talking. Tried to ignore the elephant in the room in the past and that didn’t work so well. The first thing we check up on is us. Any unresolved major issues that could have an impact during the deployment period, decisions that can be discussed face-to-face, should be before departure.

We do an assessment on the kids. This go around, we thought the youngest would have the most difficulty. I’m so glad that the time of major angst for the older ones has passed. It has surprisingly been their time to shine as supporters of both of us. The youngest has learned to express sadness and confusion, but is happier for doing so.

To help the kids, I bought a Flat Daddy and a Daddy Doll. My husband recorded a story on a Hallmark recordable book that I bought at the Exchange. They love hearing his voice at night and I’ll admit that I have Flat Daddy in my room like a rock star poster.

I also did what is now my pre-deployment routine. I grabbed a few customs forms, packing tape, picked up some USPS Priority Mail boxes and stocked up on cards to send out several times a week. Technology is great, but there is nothing like receiving a letter or package.

I make a calendar on a digital photo site for each deployment from family photos that cover the months of absence. It also allows me to add in important dates for him to remember and put messages of support on random dates.  When I have a few months of pictures from things we’ve done in his absence, I make a digital scrapbook and have it shipped directly to him. There are many options available for sending happiness to a not-so-happy place.

This is just what we do to prepare for separations and what has been tried and true for us over the years.

As for homecoming? I’m all over it! Never too early to prepare for that.

What do you do to prepare your family for deployment?

About the Author

Seasoned Air Force Spouse

Partner in well traveled active duty Air Force family. I served and retired from the Air Force. Was born and raised in an Army family! Proud overseas brat. Married to a wonderful, successful southern man with 4 children, one of whom is active duty Army. And yes, I am too young for that! Not the typical family, not the traditional 'mom'. Love military life, social media, writing, business, pop culture, and travel. Born to do more!

  • We tend to not have that much notice for our deployments, so much not time to prepare. I like to think of us as being in a state of perpetual preparedness ;) The one thing I always do before my husband leaves is write him a stack of cards — one for each week that he’ll be gone — to take with him. I can’t mail them since he rides subs, but you’re right that there is nothing like a handwritten letter!

  • Petra

    Thanks for some wonderful ideas! We still have about a year left, but it’s pretty much a given that when we PCS next, there will be a deployment again, and these ideas really sound awesome.

  • My biggest advice is make sure you have a long list of babysitters, repairmen, extra money in the bank for emergencies, doctor’s numbers, copy of medical records (of everyone), powers of attorney, a list of what your spouse usually does (like car oil changes, etc.), master list of all your financials and passports in order.

    • Christine

      I never even thought of having a passport ready. best advice that I’ve read.

  • Sara Hallberg

    My husband and I are dual military with two children. Recently, we were notified that my husband will be deploying. Although our family has experienced deployments, our children were not old enough to recall the separation.
    I now find myself in unchartered territory concerning the absence of a parent. I have listened to fellow spouses and read extensively about the subject. However, I still find myself overwhelmed. I am confident that I can handle the daily requirements (bills, school, house), but I am unsure of my children’s reaction after daddy leaves. I appreciate the suggestions.
    Some things that I plan on incorporating include:
    1) skype-this has been very useful to connect our family and it doesn’t cost anything
    2) care packages – I have sent my husband care package at least once a month (even when I was deployed). I intend to make it a family event to send a package to dad.
    3) family-Thankfully, we have a very strong extended family, and I know that they will be very important over the next couple of months.
    So, now I am going to get my calendar and start counting the days.

  • Daesha

    My husband returned in March from a nine month deployment. We recently got married, this past may and it seems like the few months that we have been living together has been divided by days at work, underways and duty. Sadly, my husband has to leave at the beginning of next month. We try not to think about it, but with less than a week/half away I do think it is great to clear the air of any unresolved issues. Having ur spouse leave while you all are on bad terms does nothing but damage your wholeness. It is good to hear other ideas that other women take to prepare themselves, but ya its hard being away from family, living alone, no kids to help pass the time and knowing no one in your new state….itll be a rough one for me. :(