Timeline of Emotions: The Challenges of Military Families Experiencing Deployment

By: Jason M. Jowers, MS, MFT

Army Soldiers Deploying by Plane
Pixabay[Army Deployment by skeeze on June 30, 2014, CC0]
As a service professional, it is important to understand the impact of deployment when working with members of military families. Deployments are a trying time for military families. There are also unique challenges that each member of a military family will face throughout the cycle of deployment.

This blog from The National Military Family Association goes over the various phases that a military family can expect to go through. These are broken down into seven phases and highlight certain emotional responses within each. It is also important to note that each family is unique and may experience these phases differently or at different times. Let’s take a look at these different phases and how we as service professionals might help military families cope throughout the deployment cycle.

  • Phase 1 focuses on the anticipation of loss and begins with receiving deployment orders.
  • Phase 2 deals with the detachment and withdrawal that families may experience.
  • Phase 3 is defined by a sense of disorganization, especially in disruption of routines and emotions.
  • Phase 4 is all about reestablishing routines.
  • Phase 5 focuses on the news and anticipation of homecoming for the service member.
  • Phase 6 is when the service member finally returns home.
  • And finally, Phase 7 addresses the reintegration of the family.

It is important to note that this article further breaks down issues that may arise between couples as well as for children in the family. One key component to remember to share with family members is that they are not alone. Military families are strong and they can rely on each other and other families in their communities for support.

For more on resources and programs that support military families, be sure to head over to the National Military Family Association website and learn more about their mission to help support military service members and their families year-round. Also, MFLN Family Development has lots of great resources! This past blog post, “From the Front Lines to the Front Door: Going Back to Family Life after Deployment,” addresses the reintegration process of returning military service members to their families.

References

Boice, M.J. (2017). Deployment Cycle of Emotions: No, You’re Not Crazy. National Military Family Association. Retrieved from: https://www.militaryfamily.org/deployment-cycle-of-emotions/

This post was written by Jason M. Jowers, MS, MFT, of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development concentration on our websiteFacebook, and Twitter.  You can also listen to our Anchored. podcast series via iTunes and our website.

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