Blog 21: Your First Deployment: How to Prepare

You knew when you signed up that all members of the Canadian Armed Forces must face deployment at some point. But now that you also know your exact deployment date, you can't help but feel nervous.

 

You don't need to feel bad if you're anxious and stressed. Pre-deployment nerves are actually very common, even among seasoned veterans who have experienced several deployments.


This blog offers some helpful tips to help you plan your deployment. Follow the tips below to calm your nerves and ensure that you and your family are financially and emotionally ready for your impending deployment.


What to Do If You're Single 

Take the Right Legal Actions


Designate power of attorney before you leave. Power of attorney gives someone other than you the ability to act on your behalf during your absence. They can file your taxes, cash cheques, refinance a mortgage, or take on other financial and legal responsibilities that would ordinarily require your signature.


Power of attorney is a big responsibility, so choose someone you trust, like a parent or close friend. You can speak to a private lawyer about power of attorney or talk to your military legal officer.


You should also create or update a will before you leave. Some people avoid creating a will before their deployment because it seems like an acknowledgement that the worst can happen. However, if you're nervous, remind yourself that most adults – most of them not in combat zones – create wills just in case something happens. A will is simply a guarantee that if anything bad happens, the people you love will be taken care of.


A will requires you to list your debts, beneficiaries, assets, and possessions. Talk to your military legal officer for more specific information on how to set up a will.


Prepare Financially
Leave your financial information with someone you trust, including bank account numbers and online banking passwords. If you haven't already, switch your payment plan to direct deposit and sign up for electronic statements so you can stay on top of your finances even while abroad. Switch any bills to automatic bill pay.


Talk to your bank to find out if they have any special services for deployments. They might also have advice on how to manage your finances while you're away.


Cope Emotionally
In National Defence's pamphlet Preparing for Deployment Stress, the authors describe deployment stress as "the physical and emotional demands relating to a deployment." It's characterized by frustration, depression, anxiety, tension, and anger, and can include fantasizing and energy and mood fluctuations.


If you experience deployment stress, recognize that you're not alone. Most people feel this way before deploying. Allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions; withdrawal and detachment will likely only compound your stress. Consider keeping a journal to catalogue your emotions and share your feelings. Take chances to participate in relaxing activities you enjoy before you leave, and remember that your deployment won't last forever.


You can also contact a counselor for help, or learn more about the Canadian Armed Forces’ Mental Health Services.


Protect Your Belongings
If you're planning to rent your apartment or house until you return, ensure your belongings stay safe by moving them to a storage unit. Some self-storage companies offer discounts to active duty service members.


Give the storage unit information to someone you trust. They can check up on your belongings periodically. Don't forget to inform them about any important documents you store in your unit and to leave them with the key to any secure boxes. Contact Yellowhead Storage for all your self-storage needs in Edmonton.


What to Do If You Have a Partner 

Discuss Finances Together


Before you leave, you and your partner should discuss issues like budgeting and bill payments. Check that all of your financial information is up-to-date and that your partner knows how to access any emergency funds.


Talk about Your Relationship
It’s common to start to withdraw from those around you right before a deployment. This is a common coping strategy. National Defence refers to this as the "Detachment and Withdrawal" phase of deployment stress.


If you feel yourself withdrawing, acknowledge that your feelings make sense in light of your stress. However, make an active effort to communicate more with your partner instead of less. Discuss your feelings about the deployment as a couple, including your current concerns and worries about the future. Create a plan to manage these concerns, and be patient with each other.


Remember, as long as both parties are committed to each other, your relationship will survive this deployment. Come up with a communication plan, including how and how often you'll speak with each other. Don’t forget to spend time together as a couple before the deployment.


After Deployment


When you follow the steps listed here, you’ll be able to focus on your duties at hand without worrying about things at home. See the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces’ government site for more strategies on how to cope with deployment.