Military families experience a lot of emotional trauma when one is deployed. The impacts of the deployment on the family can be classified into five stages which take place since the appointment of a soldier to deployment to their return home after the mission. The first stage of the process is the pre-deployment stage. The pre-deployment stage takes place weeks or months to deployment until the actual departure of the soldier to the mission. The stage is characterized by many factors which include anticipation for loss and denial, training, physical and mental preparation, and arguments (p. 155). The expectation for loss and denial happens to the spouse of the servicemen being deployed and to some extent their children. As the time for departure gets close, the spouse of the individual may start asking questions like if the individual has to go really or they could replace him or her with someone else. Questions like this are typical as the spouse is in denial and they are anticipating to let go of their significant other. When the idea starts to sink, the couple begins putting things in order. Things like: car maintenance, paying bills, taking care of children and many others. Another characteristic of the stage is lots of arguments and may be catastrophic to the relationship especially for a young couple. The stage is also characterized by a lot of training for the servicemen (Pincus, Leiner, Black & Ward Singh, n.d.). The training process, therefore, means that the individuals may spend more time away from home. At this point, the soldiers tend to talk more about the mission which cements their bond which is essential for their mission ahead. It may, however, increase the sense of separation for the spouse and in many situations, a spouse is found wishing that the soldiers are gone already. Reason for this that the soldier is physically present but psychologically absent. The final thing that takes place in this stage is preparation on the way the couple will be communicating while one is on the mission.
The pre-deployment is followed by the deployment period where the soldier has left home and is on the mission (p. 157). The stage lasts for about a month into deployment. For the spouse, this is a challenging stage where the first month of deployment the spouse may experience feelings of loneliness, numbness, sadness, and worry. At this point, the spouse starts to feel that a hole has been left and may be concerned of their ability to get over the feeling. Some military spouses have reported being overwhelmed and disoriented. Anxiety and worry may be overwhelming for a family especially if the soldier is not able to make the first call to the family weeks into deployment. At this point, a couple may not want to worry each other about the problems they are facing like financial problems for the one at home or a problematic supervisor for the one on the mission. A lot of things may go unsaid at this stage which may cause psychological problems for each one of them.
Sustainment follows deployment. Sustainment stage takes place between the first month of deployment to the 18th. Individuals at this stage look for ways to deal with the current arrangement (p.158). They may be involved in a church-based organization or just a couple of friends or family with whom they might talk. Communications with the spouse in the mission may be filled with filtering of information not to worry the other person. The stage also has an impact on the children according to age. The children under one year may show listlessness, those between 1 and 12 years may show irritableness and sadness while those between 12 and 18 may show apathy and anger which may be manifested by the use of drugs and isolating themselves.
The stage that follows is re-deployment which is the month before the member of the family is said to return home, usually 17th through 18th month. The stage is characterized by high expectations and excitement for the homecoming of the individual on a mission (Pincus, Leiner, Black & Ward Singh, n.d.). There is also a certain burst of energy where an individual finds it necessary to complete some tasks before the arrival of a loved one. The spouse at home may also have some worries that the soldier might not be pleased with the changes he/she has made at home. There may also be worries of losing independence. The whole stage may be overwhelming and as a result, present some difficulty in making decisions for the individual.
The final stage is the post-deployment stage where the soldier arrives at home and is received by members of the family. It is a stage characterized by a honey-moon face for a couple and excitement in the entire family for the return of the soldier. The soldiers at this stage might find the need to maintain connections with fellow soldiers as they have been a lot together and can support each other. It may leave the spouse frustrated as they expect the soldier to spend more time with family The period lasts between 6 to 8 months after return before everything goes back to normal (Pincus, Leiner, Black & Ward Singh, n.d.).
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