FOCUS and the Deployment Cycle

Because military children and families find new challenges with each deployment, it can be especially helpful to have a “toolbox” full of practical skills to help them feel prepared for whatever may come their way. In FOCUS, families learn a wide range of skills that better prepare them for each stage of deployment and following the completion of active military service.

Pre-deployment: family learns about the upcoming deployment

Parents may feel stressed about everything they need to get done before the service member leaves. Children may have many questions about the details of their parent’s deployment and concerns about who will care for them in their parent’s absence. FOCUS teaches parents and children how to set goals in realistic, achievable steps, and how to talk to children about their worries and concerns.

Deployment: first month the service member is gone

Family members may feel numb, sad, and/or worried as they adjust to the separation. Spouses/Partners and children may have to adjust to taking on new responsibilities once the service member has deployed. FOCUS teaches parents and children how to understand and deal with their emotional reactions to separation and a practical plan for solving problems and dealing with disagreements in the family.

Sustainment: one month into deployment to one month prior to the service member’s return

Children deal with feelings of missing the deployed parent, especially when the parent can’t be present for everyday activities. Parents may find it challenging to work together as a team in raising their children when one of them is gone. FOCUS teaches parents and children ways to communicate during the separation, so everyday activities can be shared despite the distance, and they can continue to work as a team.

Redeployment: month before the service member comes home

Family members may feel both excited and nervous about the deployed parent coming home. They may wonder how everyone is going to adjust to changes that have taken place during the deployed parent’s absence. FOCUS teaches parents and children how to prepare for the changes in routines and responsibilities that often occur when the service member comes home and they reconnect as a family.

Post-deployment: service member returns home

Family members may feel very happy to be reunited but may also find it challenging to get to know each other once again, particularly if major changes have happened during the deployment. Service members may be dealing with deployment reminders, or combat operational stress or physical injuries, which in turn affects the whole family. FOCUS helps families learn strategies for dealing with deployment reminders and skills to support service members affected by stress or physical injury.

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