Resources available to help Airmen prepare

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- With today's culture of expeditionary deployments the chance of deploying is high. Every Airman should expect to deploy whether it be in Air Expeditionary Force structure with your own unit, as an enabler to support additional taskings to other units or on extended Temporary Duty in support of our sister services.

These deployments often vary in length and location. Some are known well in advance, while others may be short notice. Whatever the tasking, there are many things individuals and supervisors can do to ensure the success of the deployed mission, while taking care of military members and their families.

A good start for the military member is to ensure all of the required training needed for deployment is up to date and current throughout the deployment time frame. Utilize your unit training manager, unit deployment manager, supervisors and other locally developed check lists to help you prepare for success.

Currency is critical in items such as Self-Aid Buddy Care, chemical warfare, weapon proficiency, medical clearance and recurring training required in your own specific Air Force Specialty Code this will help prepare you for success and enable you to 'hit the ground running' at your deployed location.

Equally important are the personal affairs of military members and their families. By having a good plan to care for personal matters, stress and worry can be reduced, enabling the deployed member the ability to fully concentrate on the task at hand.

For married members, having powers of attorney set up for their spouses will enable them to take care of personal items while deployed. Checking out the family car, working out finances and getting a list of available agencies and phone contacts that will be there for your family while you are deployed, are a few more things that you can do to help get them ready.

If you are single, identifying what bills will be due while you are gone, identifying someone to stop by your residence to check up, water the plants, mow the yard and have your mail forwarded or picked up, etc. are also good things to plan in advance.

By establishing a family care plan, ensuring contact numbers are accurate and most importantly following through, items of concern can be addressed and dealt with before they become problems.

Commanders, first sergeants and supervisors play a very important role in making the deployment successful for the military member and their family. Contact the deployed family members at least once every two weeks to see how things are going. Let them know that you are available if situations arise that they need help with. Include them in squadron functions such as barbecues, going aways, squadron parties, etc. Keep them informed on what agencies are available to provide support.

The Family Support Center, chaplain services and base legal office are a few that come to mind. Most bases have a number of programs to help the families of deployed members. Morale calls, easier/priority access to child care, a free oil change for the family car, activities and support network for spouses of the deployed member are just a few things that may be offered.

Ensure that you know what is available and that the information is passed along to the deployed member's family. The tips identified above are by no means all encompassing, but a good start. 

If the leadership of the organization and the military member start by making a good plan, follow through to ensure the plan is successful and have all the information needed to contact those with the ability to provide help if and when required, the deployment will be successful and the stress on the individual and their family will be minimized.