It’s never easy having a family member or friend deploy, but it can be even more emotionally wrenching during Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
Here are a few suggestions by a licensed, independent clinical social worker on how you and your family can approach the separation:
- Communicate. Talk with children and encourage all family to express their concerns and feelings. Dedicate a few minutes at the end of each day listen and help loved ones facing problems. Encourage them to write a journal and letters.
- Be Flexible. Be open to accepting new roles in the absence of your loved one. Try to maintain old routines where you can. Where new routines are needed, share responsibilities, especially with older children.
- Coping Skills. Don’t struggle alone, reach out to family members and friends to learn about their experiences and solve problems together. Set aside personal time, learn relaxation techniques and use resources such as mobile therapy apps, like Breathe2Relax, to help handle stress.
- Stay Connected. There are ways for family members to stay connected when you’re separated. Use the Internet and safe, family-friendly sites, such as Military Kids Connect or Families Near and Far, to overcome the physical and emotional distance experienced by children and family.
- Support network. Build a network of family, friends and neighbors because the person you usually turn to may not be there. Connect with people through online support groups such as service-specific family support and readiness groups. Find creative ways to bring support into your home, such as inviting extended family members and friends to join you for a family meal — you get help and camaraderie.
Also be alert to signs that a child or family member is stressing or overwhelmed because of the separation. Watch for difficulties in doing daily chores or making decisions, depression, anxiety and an inability to handle new roles like household finances.
The Defense Centers for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury provides these resources:
- DCoE Outreach Center (Available 24/7)
- Family Support Centers (installation-based)
- Family Assistance Centers (State-based for the geographically dispersed)
- Joint Family Support Assistance Program
- Military OneSource
- Military Crisis Line (800-273-8255, press 1)
- Military Kids Connect
- Real Warriors Campaign
- Sesame Street Workshop (Deployments, Homecomings, Changes)
- Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
Filed under: Department of Defense, Deployment, Military families Tagged: | Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, Family Resources and Support, holidays, military families