As the war in Ukraine intensifies, more U.S. military troops are being deployed to the region.
In many cases, the deployed military personnel have families they must leave behind at home—both their spouses and children of all ages.
Because these deployments can be understandably challenging for the families of deployed military, spouses and children must get the support they need.
How to Prepare Before Deployment
Once a family learns when their loved one will be deployed to Ukraine, preparations can begin at home right away. It is critical to review childcare arrangements, and it’s also essential to ensure that all legal and financial documents are up to date and that the spouse who is to remain at home is ready to manage the household finances and routines.
Families should also spend time preparing emotionally. This may involve creating a plan to communicate when the spouse/parent is deployed, researching support groups in the area, and spending time together before their departure.
Coping During Deployment
Deployment can affect children differently depending on their ages. For example, young children may not understand why a parent will no longer be around at bedtime to tuck them in, and school-aged children may feel scared. Teenagers may feel anger towards the deployed parent and frustration at home for taking on increased responsibilities. Regardless of age, it’s essential to help children of all ages cope with their feelings and understand that they haven’t done anything wrong.
For the parent staying home, it’s critical to help your children feel like they are still in contact with the deployed parent. Younger children can draw pictures or take photos of what they did that day and create a scrapbook to send to the deployed parent. Adolescents can email, write letters, and put care packages to send overseas. If you know the length of deployment, you can do a countdown on the calendar that shows when the deployed parent will return home.
It’s helpful to answer questions about the deployment as honestly as possible but try to limit television coverage of the war with younger children. If teenagers want to watch the news, watch with them so you can reassure them and answer questions right away.
For the at-home spouse who is suddenly playing the role of both parents and running the entire household, you need to care for yourself too. So, spend time with friends, start a new hobby, and plan fun activities for you and your family to enjoy together.
The Impact on Family Members’ Mental Health and How to Get Help
While military families tend to be highly resilient, deployment can take its toll on mental health. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, anxiety, anger, or another mental health issue, please reach out to the professionals at San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. We’re here for your support.