The Emotional Cycle During Deployment

Section Three: Recovery and Stabilization

Service Members and their families will usually enter a period of recovery and stabilization.

Both you and your Service Member should have settled into your deployment routines by now. You spend most of your time during deployment in recovery and stabilization. In this stage you develop effective family routines, use social supports, and manage stress, parenting, and household responsibilities. Still additional responsibility is stressful, and you can have mixed feelings of success and failure. On one hand you may be asking yourself, “How can I go through this?” This can lead to being sick more frequently, feeling mildly depressed or anxious, and vulnerable. On the other hand, successfully handling all of these issues leads to significant resilience and potential for growth. Often you will feel more in control, independent, and confident. In the activity to the right, decide whether each action is positive or negative progress by dragging the item to the corresponding category.

Recovery and stabilization will still be challenging for both Services Members and families.

Return to the Emotional Cycle of Deployment resource and review the Recovery and Stabilization stage. First, read over the actions in the “What’s going on” column and then look at the “Feelings” column. Can you identify with them? Do you see some of them in your children or other family members? Consider other behaviors you may be seeing during this stage. Think about your biggest challenge in this stage. For example, how are you dealing with long-distance parenting? How do you plan to overcome your challenges, and what are you doing now to work through them? How do you feel about coping with the remainder of the deployment? Review the coping strategies in the third column on the resource for assistance.

Acknowledging the whole range of feelings is the first step toward dealing with them in a healthy manner.

Now let’s jump a few months ahead. After spending months in recovery and stabilization, the anticipation of return starts generally 4-6 weeks before the expected return date. This is when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your loved one is coming home! The video to the right shows us some of the typical feelings and behaviors of a mother and daughter who are both having different thoughts about this homecoming. Are they communicating? Are they sharing their feelings? Remember, that even as the homecoming gets close, you still need to model coping skills for children and keep communications going. Even though you may be anxious about the Service Member coming home, the other family members may be feeling that way too. When the opportunity arises, take advantage of it and sit and share your feelings.