By Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito
Deployment involves uncertainty about many things, including the duration of the separation. Sometimes an assignment is extended, just when a family begins to see the light at the end of the deployment tunnel. An extension for any reason can bring on a host of fresh emotions, worries, even physical symptoms, including exhaustion and pain.
To deal with a deployment extension in a healthy way, find a safe outlet for your initial reaction to the news. Be angry at the situation, but don’t blame individuals, especially your spouse. Service members may feel badly that they won’t be coming home and worry about additional stress on their family; kids may wonder if their behavior or fears caused the extension. Try to work out some of your emotions and help those around you do the same. You have no control over your new timeline, but you can control how you respond to it.
“You have no control over your new timeline, but you can control how you respond to it.”
A few tools you can put in your deployment extension kit to help you combat the negative effects and turn back to the positive approach of celebrating each day:
Consider this deployment extension as a new beginning. If there are things you wish you had done during the deployment, you can do them now. If there are routines that aren’t quite working, go ahead and change them.
Anger and disappointment are common responses for both children and adults, but families should pay attention to more severe or lasting reactions including depression, apathy, withdrawal, or increased physical stress. Seek help from a professional when these symptoms persist.
Yes, deployment extensions are disappointing, but a few extra days or weeks is a short time compared to spending your life together. Take all the positive things you learned during this deployment and use them to turn the extra time into a positive, rewarding experience.
Karen Pavlicin is the award-winning author of Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families and Life After Deployment: Military Families Share Reunion Stories and Advice.
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