Sometimes deployments come with advance notice, but other times they can be sprung upon military families suddenly. While service members generally go through some pre-deployment processing, family members do not. Here are some tips for preparing for a deployment.
Deployments can be stressful on the whole family. The most important thing to know is there are multiple helpful resources out there. The installation Family Service Center is a great source of information and referrals for all types of issues. They can also provide information on interest-free loans and grants.
Some units may have family readiness groups or family support groups that act as an additional point of contact.
If your service member is not attached to a specific installation or unit, you can always call Military OneSource 24 hours a day at 900-342-9647. Military OneSource has an entire section of their website called Plan My Deployment that will help military members and their families be ready for every stage of the deployment process.
When service members deploy, if they have children or dependents, they are required to have a family plan in place. Legal assistance is usually on hand during pre-deployment processing to create wills and powers of attorney.
Make sure you know what type of legal paperwork will be needed while the service member is deployed. Some financial transactions require special powers of attorney while a general power of attorney may suffice in other situations.
Everyone in the family should have a valid military identification card and family information should be accurate and up to date in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS.
When it comes to finances and deployments, there needs to be a clear plan in place, and it needs to be communicated to everyone involved beforehand. Payments should be automated whenever possible and/or a family member should be designated to pay the bills.
Military families should be familiar with the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act. These laws can reduce interest rates for deployed/activated military members, can help with termination of auto and housing leases, and can protect against foreclosures, repossessions, and default judgments.
Consider placing a free freeze on the service member’s credit while deployed. Active duty service members can also opt to place a one-year fraud alert on their credit, which will remove their names from pre-approved credit card offers for two years.
While combat deployments are stressful, they also bring with them additional pays and benefits.
Members of the uniformed services serving in a designated combat zone for more than 30 days are eligible to deposit up to $10,000 of their pay in the Savings Deposit Program and receive 10 percent interest.
Depending on the amount of earnings that are excluded from tax, families may become eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit even if they have not been in the past.
For those who contribute to the Traditional Thrift Savings Plan, it is worth considering switching to the Roth Thrift Savings Plan while in a combat zone – you won’t pay any taxes on your contributions, and the earnings will be tax free.
Deployments come with unique stresses, but there is assistance at hand. Being prepared can help allay anxiety and bring some peace of mind.