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When Your Son or Daughter Is Deployed

By: LIFELines

A son's or daughter's deployment can stir up conflicting emotions in a parent. While you are proud of your service member's accomplishments, you may be concerned for his or her safety, especially if the deployment is to an area of conflict. It's important to keep in mind that your son or daughter is capable, trained, and well equipped to carry out his or her mission. Also remember that the best thing you can do for your son or daughter is to offer your support and encouragement.

Preparing for deployment

Before your son or daughter deploys discuss a plan for staying in touch. You should know:

  • The address to send letters and care packages. The address should include your service member's full name (with or without rank or rating), unit, and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address. Be sure you have the unit name, including the battalion, ship, squadron, platoon, etc.

  • Your service member's social security number. Keep this handy in case you have to find your son or daughter in an emergency.

  • If your son or daughter will have e-mail access. If so, don't expect instantaneous communication. Depending on where your service member is stationed, e-mail may be sporadic.

  • Roughly how long before your letters and/or e-mails will be answered. While it's impossible to say for certain, your service member may be able to tell you that he or she will be so busy during the first few weeks that there may be little time to write. o Whether you will receive phone calls, and if so, roughly how often and for how long.

  • How you can get information about your son's or daughter's unit. Find out from your service member's base command whether any of the following options are available to you:
  • Command and unit newsletters. These may be online or in hard copy. To be included on the distribution list, your service member will need to provide your information to his or her unit.

  • Phone trees. Volunteers at home pass along information to family members from the command.

  • Volunteer family support groups. Each branch of the armed forces offers support networks for families, though support for parents of deployed service members varies according to the policies of the unit. Depending on your service member's branch, you may be able to receive information from the unit's Air

  • Force Family Readiness Program, Army Family Readiness Group, Marine Corps Key Volunteer Network, or Navy Ombudsman or Family Support Groups.

  • Command and unit Web sites. Many commands and units have their own Web sites, which may include videos and pictures.

If your service member is married, the service branch has an obligation only to communicate with his or her spouse, so you may have to get your information through your son-or-daughter-in-law. Be aware that communication with your service member may be difficult for reasons including power outages, travel, and emote locations. Also, there may be limitations on what your service member can reveal to you, such as precise locations and activities.

Remember, no news is often good news. Your service member may be wrapped up in mission operations and unable to communicate. In a serious emergency, the family will be notified through official channels.