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Cycle of Deployment — part one

Deployment, now that can be a hard word to swallow sometimes. For many it is an emotional and difficult time as they adjust to the change. It can also be a time for growth as well. One fact remains, deployments happen and all involved experience normal stages of adjustment to this abnormal event.

Your command ombudsman is trained to recognize these definable stages of adjustment known as the “cycle of deployment” and is available to help you through them all.

In all there are seven stages to this cycle, with the first stage being the “Anticipation of loss.” Most experience this about six weeks before a known deployment.

One might experience everything from moodiness/depression, restlessness or even irritability during this stage. It is not uncommon to bicker and fight more as you and your sailor are both putting emotional distance between yourselves before the physical separation of deployment occurs.

Then there are those like me who become more “clingy,” and this too is normal.

During the second stage, “Detachment and Withdrawal,” fatigue and even ambivalence about intimacy may occur. This is usually during the last week or moments before deployment. Remember your feelings are normal. You and your family are adjusting to the upcoming change of separation.

Talk to one another and plan for how you will communicate during deployment. My sailor and I plan for deployment, like everything else through constant communication and by choice.

We create wish lists for the contents of boxes we will send to one another and how many boxes too. It helps us to stay connected as a couple and get past the awkward moments that the impending separation can create.

Stage three, typically lasts for the first six weeks of deployment and is the “Emotional Disorganization” phase. There can be an initial moment of relief, often followed quickly with feelings of guilt.

The restlessness and irritability of the earlier stages may still be around as well. It is common to feel aimless and isolated during this stage of adjustment. Reach out to your command Ombudsman and family support group too.

It is okay for everything not to feel okay. Just keep moving on to stage four, “Recovery and Stabilization.” This is when you have hit your stride and know you are okay. You have accepted the new responsibilities, have gained maturity and may even enjoy the new freedom.

The time to reach this stage varies. This is a great time to take some college classes, volunteer with NWCA or NMCRS, and grow as an individual. Sometimes as things happen you may flip-flop between stages three and four. This is normal. Go ahead give yourself permission to “have a moment” when problems arise and then move back into the recovery and stabilization of stage four.

The important thing to remember is you do not have to handle everything alone. Your command ombudsman stands ready to assist you with information and referral to many resources waiting to help you. 

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