TABLE 1

Anticipatory Guidance for Cycle of Deployment to Assess and Intervene in the Family System

Stages of DeploymentProvider Assessment and Anticipatory Guidance
Predicting difficulties with deploymentAssess previous history of family dysfunction, mental health issues in parent, special needs of children, recent family relocation, and previous problems during a deployment.
PredeploymentDiscuss responsibilities and expectations of each family member during upcoming deployment. Make plans and goals for family rather than “put lives on hold.” Decrease likelihood of misperception and distortion. Prepare for communication strategies and expectations.
DeploymentInitiate plans made during predeployment. Continue family traditions and develop new ones. Facilitate children’s understanding of the finite nature of the deployment by developing timelines (as age appropriate).
SustainmentEstablish support systems (extended family, friends, religious group, family support groups, etc). Communicate with deployed service member via e-mail, phone, and letters. Avoid overspending. Spend some time without the children. Ask children how they are doing.
PostdeploymentTake time to communicate and get to know each other. Spend time talking to each other. Take time to make decisions and changes in routine. Lower holiday expectations. Keep plans simple and flexible. Do not try to schedule too many things during the first few weeks. Let absent parent “back into” the family circle.