Deployment

Deployments are as demanding for the families left behind as for their deployed loved one. Making sure practical, physical and emotional well-being is maintained can be challenging. But you can rely on a strong network of families and communities, plus Royal Navy support services, to give all the help, advice, resources and guidance you need, at every stage of deployment. 

Since each stage has its own practical and emotional challenges, we have split it into five stages.

8-12 Months Before

Deployment Is Announced

Hearing about forthcoming deployment is never easy, whether you're a first-timer, experience means you have a better idea of what to expect. Generally, deployments are announced anywhere between 8 and 12 months before troops set sail.

On an emotional and practical level, preparation and communication are vital, for everyone involved. With a wealth of people around you experiencing similar challenges, there is a strong support network just a click away on the RN Forums, or in the Royal Navy Community Centres across the country. And with the wide-ranging guidance and advice offered by the Royal Navy support and welfare services, the approach to deployment day can hopefully seem less daunting.

What To Expect (Emotions And Behaviours)

Deployment is undeniably a very emotional experience for everyone, whether you’re the family holding the fort at home, or you’re the one being deployed. 

When deployment is announced (typically 8-12 months prior), it’s common to feel like you have all the time in the world. But it’s good to be aware that such advance notice can sometimes be too much of a good thing; time moves quickly, even with best-laid plans.

At this stage it’s advisable to start recognising and acknowledging that certain emotions will start to come to the surface. Feelings of anger, resentment and underlying tension commonly characterise this part of the pre-deployment period. It’s important to remember that these feelings are perfectly normal and are felt by the people around you. 

This is therefore the perfect time to start making connections (if you haven’t already) with the people like you who are in a similar situation. By using the RN Forums, you can begin to build the strong support network that will be invaluable during deployment. 


How To Prepare (Practical Help)

Even if deployment may feel like a long way off, it's a good time to start thinking about practical things like utilities (service providers etc.), the whereabouts of important documentation (including the deployed's will, and car and insurance documents, for example), important renewal dates (like car tax and MOT), as well as services like the Link Letter Scheme to keep in touch with the deployed person when he or she is away. It's good to be aware of emergency contact details and register for the RN Forums, if you haven't already.

RN Forums

What To Say And Do At This Time (Communication)

If you're experiencing the feelings of anger, resentment and underlying tension that can be common at this stage of pre-deployment, it's good to get them out in the open and talk them through with your partner or loved one. If you don't wish to rock the boat at home, help is only a phone call, tap or click away. 

Visit our Welfare Team page to find out more.

What Children Will Be Feeling

Children of all ages require consistency and continuity, so deployment naturally brings with it it's own, unique challenges. Taking openly and honestly with children is vital to understanding how they feel about the deployment and separation from their mum or dad (or sibling). 

At this stage, with deployment a reasonable time off, it's advisable to open the dialogue, so they feel involved in the process. Reassuring them that just as the parent in question is going away for a certain period, they're also coming back. 

Involve children as much as possible in the deployment by discussing the work the deployed person will be doing using the
'When a Special Person Goes Away Workbook'.

You can also contact RNRM Welfare for more suggestions and the latest ideas. Their specialist community teams are highly experienced and well versed in dealing with separation issues concerning children and young adults.

What Help Is Available

There are many way to get the help and support you need, not just during deployment, but before and after it too. You're not alone in the way you and your family feel at this time, so help is always at hand.

The best places to start are the Family and Friends of Deployed Units (FAFDU), Team Around Ships and Units (TASU), the dedicated RNRM Welfare Team and the RN Forums.

RN Forums

Getting In Touch With The Deployed

Even though deployment is a way off yet, it's good to know what your options are for keeping in touch with your loved one while they're away.

16-10 Weeks Before

What To Expect (Emotions And Behaviours)

With deployment approaching, this stage is generally characterised by the potential stresses of anticipating departure and the feeling of loss that usually goes with it. 

Typically, it’s hard to accept that partners are going to leave, which usually surfaces in unexpressed anger or the release of pent-up emotions. This period is naturally very emotionally challenging, and with practical things like family visits or finishing off that bit of DIY added into the mix, it’s easy to appreciate the tensions.

If these tensions bubble up into arguments, it can be good to go with them and let them run their course: they provide a practical way for couples to put some distance between one another in preparation for living apart.

Other frequent symptoms of this stage include restlessness, depression and irritability. While the partner left at home may feel angry or resentful (“He/she is really going to leave me alone with all this”), the deploying partner tends to feel guilty (“There’s no way I can get everything done that I should before I leave”). 


How To Prepare

On a practical level, there are many things to consider before deployment. Take a look at our rough guide to see if you have everything covered. 

Utilities
Do you know how to turn off the water, gas and electricity? Or how the heating system works? Who is your service provider? If not, find out before a loved one deploys.

Documentation
Make sure you know where all the important documents are kept, such as car documents, insurance documents, details of Service Number and emergency contact details. 

Renewal dates
Make a list of when important items are due for renewal. Although not exhaustive you need to be aware when the following are due: car tax, MOT, car service, TV licence, insurances.

The Will
Make sure you know where it is. This isn't morbid and won't bring what we’d rather not consider any closer; what it will do is remove another worry from the back of your mind. Advice on making a will is available from the government.

Property
If your property is going to be empty for some time during the deployment, check that you are insured for your home and its contents. It may be worth considering re-directing your mail, details of which are on the Post Office website.

It might also be worthwhile giving a door key to a friendly neighbour.

Financial
In association with the British Legion and the Ministry of Defence the MoneyForce website has been established as the home of money guidance for UK Service Personnel and their families. 

Whether you are planning for a deployment, dealing with debt, interested in investments or puzzled about payday loans, MoneyForce will arm you with all the information you need to get MoneyFit.
See Dame Kelly Holmes introducing the MoneyForce website. 

Link Letter Scheme (LLS)
The LLS is a scheme used by ships and units to communicate with families and friends when they are deployed. It enables Commanding Officers to pass on accurate, current information by letter to nominated recipients at home.

If you are a family member of someone deployed or soon to be deployed make sure you remind them of the LLS and as a serving person you are reminded that the LLS is an invaluable way of keeping your family and friends as up to date as possible with ship/unit developments that can’t be published on the internet.

Register on RN Forums
To register to access to the members’ area you need to complete the process in the registration guide. Once you have completed this and your details have been verified you will be given access.

All of this information and much, much more can be found in the RNRM Welfare pre-deployment pack. If you have not already received yours they can be requested by contacting the HIVE.

What To Say And Do At This Time

With deployment coming ever closer, emotional tension is to be expected – and very natural. It’s common to internalise these feelings to preserve the wellbeing of the person being deployed. There is some merit in this, but balance is also important. It is unquestionably constructive to be open and candid about the way you – and the person about to be deployed – are feeling. Even though these conversations can sometimes be painful and stressful, the feeling of having cleared the air and understanding the points of view involved far outweigh these less-than-pleasant feelings. After all, you need to be there for one another, particularly when that physical presence will soon be on deployment.

What Children Will Be Feeling

It’s a potentially, and understandably, confusing time for children, not least because the deployed person hasn’t left our shores yet and the physical separation is yet to be a reality.   

Calmness, candour and honesty are imperative, as children are likely to have even more questions than they usually do. 

If you haven’t already, involve children as much as possible in the deployment by discussing the work mum or dad will be doing using the
‘When a Special Person Goes Away Workbook’.

You can also contact RNRM Welfare for more suggestions and the latest ideas. Their specialist community teams are highly experienced and well versed in dealing with separation issues concerning children and young adults.


What Help Is Available

There are many ways to get the help and support you need, not just during deployment, but before and after it too. You’re not alone in the way you and your family feel at this time, so help is always at hand.

The best places to start are the Family and Friends of Deployed Units (FAFDU), Team Around Ships and Units (TASU), the dedicated RNRM Welfare Team and the RN Forums.

RN Forums.

Getting In Touch With The Deployed

Staying in touch with your loved one makes deployment much more straightforward. With deployment approaching, explore your options for keeping in touch. 

1 Week before

What To Expect (Emotions And Behaviours)

This stage can be among deployment’s most challenging. With separation imminent, it’s common to begin the process of emotional detachment (be it conscious or subconscious) and start withdrawing from close relationships. This often becomes most apparent during intimate moments in the bedroom, where the impending emotional and physical separation contradicts the ultimate intimacy.

Uncomfortable as they may be, these feelings of withdrawal and detachment are entirely natural and part of our wired-in self-defence, protection and preservation systems. 

It’s common to close up at this stage and stop sharing thoughts and feelings, particularly if deployment is delayed. Even with so much going in the lead up to deployment, communication remains key: get these feelings, positive or negative, out in the open, so the air is clear before deployment comes. 


How To Prepare (Practical Help)

With deployment just around the corner, hopefully you’ve already taken the time to organise the more practical elements. This means things like utilities (service providers etc.), the whereabouts of important documentation (including the deployed’s will, and car and insurance documents, for example), important renewal dates (like car tax and MOT), as well as services like the Link Letter Scheme to keep in touch the deployed person when he or she is away. It’s also good to be aware of emergency contact details and register for the RN Forums, if you haven’t already.


What To Say And Do At This Time (Communication)

If you’re experiencing the feelings of withdrawal and detachment that typically characterise this period just before deployment, it’s advisable to get them out in the open. Painful and stressful as these exchanges can be, clearing the air by sharing thoughts and feelings before deployment is invaluable, while the feeling that something is ‘hanging over you’ is not always the best way to start a period of separation. 

Spending quality family time is also crucial at this stage. With the challenges of deployment ahead, everyone involved benefits from pulling together to feel like a strong family unit. 


What Children Will Be Feeling

Children can be particularly vulnerable at this time, especially if it’s their first deployment. Talking openly and honestly about what’s about to happen will work wonders. They may be feeling anxious or scared about the unknowns of deployment, so reassuring them that everything is OK, that mum or dad is just doing their job, and will be home before they know it, are all equally important. 

This stage is the perfect time to organise something special, like a family party or outing to look back on. Also, Service children benefit hugely from having a memento from mum or dad for when they’re on deployment. Equally, it’s good for the children to make something for said parent to take away with them.  

If you haven’t already, involve children as much as possible in the deployment by discussing the work mum or dad will be doing using the ‘When a Special Person Goes Away Workbook’. 

You can also contact RNRM Welfare for more suggestions and the latest ideas. Their specialist community teams are highly experienced and well versed in dealing with separation issues concerning children and young adults.


What Help Is Available

There are many ways to get the help and support you need during deployment. You’re not alone in the way you and your family feel at this time, so help is always at hand. 

The best places to start are the Family and Friends of Deployed Units (FAFDU), Team Around Ships and Units (TASU), the dedicated RNRM Welfare Team and the RN Forums.

RN Forums.

Getting In Touch With The Deployed

Staying in touch with your loved one makes deployment much more straightforward. With deployment approaching, explore your options for keeping in touch. 

0 During Deployment

What To Expect (Emotions And Behaviours)

Naturally, this stage feels very transitional and ‘emotionally disorganised’: old routines have been disrupted and there’s a hole in the fabric of family life. No matter how emotionally and practically prepared you may feel, the actual deployment can come as a shock. 

Typically, a sense of relief usually follows deployment (“Thank goodness that’s over with”), which is sometimes followed by guilt (“Why am I relieved when I love him/her?”). With deployment comes the responsibility of steering the ship at home too, which can feel overwhelming. 

The subsequent feelings of numbness and aimlessness can lead to withdrawal from family, friends and neighbours, a change in sleeping patterns, restlessness and irritability. It’s important to remember that these feelings are completely natural and will pass; they are a valuable part of the adjustment process that everyone goes through. As such, it’s beneficial to make and keep in contact with the people around you who are experiencing the same, as well as the broad welfare services on offer. 

As new routines and support networks are established, and everyone involved gets used to the emotional and practical aspects of deployment, a sense of stability and “We can do this” typically returns between four and six weeks after deployment. It’s also entirely natural for these times to be peppered with feelings of anxiety and vulnerability, but generally, feelings of independence, freedom and self-confidence prevail.  


How To Prepare (Practical Help)

Hopefully, practical aspects have already been taken care of, but it’s good to be aware of things like utilities (service providers etc.), the whereabouts of important documentation (including the deployed’s will, and car and insurance documents, for example), important renewal dates (like car tax and MOT), as well as services like the Link Letter Scheme to keep in touch the deployed person when he or she is away. It’s also good to be aware of emergency contact details and register for the RN Forums, if you haven’t already.  

The families at home tend to settle into their own routine at this stage of deployment, and there are huge support networks available to help with just about anything. The RN Forums are an excellent starting point.

RN Forums

What To Say And Do At This Time (Communication)

Understandably, being in touch with the deployed person can be challenging, so learning to live without regular contact and making the most of the contact you do have is important. That said, there are many ways to stay in touch during deployment. 

Given the unique demands of deployment, it’s important to stay busy and make the most of the support and social groups offered by the Naval Service. Sharing your feelings with people around you is invaluable; you’re never alone. 

Find out more.

What Children Will Be Feeling

Children need extra support and attention during the separation that comes with deployment. It’s important to keep the absent parent in the family's everyday emotional life. Talk openly and honestly about separation and what they miss; even if this seems more painful to start with, it will help the subsequent reunion immeasurably.

Children lose part of their security when a parent leaves, which may show up in unacceptable behaviour such as temper tantrums, or a fall-off in school performance. These are a perfectly natural part of deployment, and should subside with time. Again, communication is key. 

Expect some questions about death ("Will mummy / daddy kill people or be shot?"), which it is necessary to calmly and honestly address, even if you are worried about the same thing.

If you haven’t already, involve children as much as possible in the deployment by discussing the work mum or dad will be doing using the ‘When a Special Person Goes Away Workbook’.

You can also contact RNRM Welfare for more suggestions and the latest ideas. Their specialist community teams are highly experienced and well versed in dealing with separation issues concerning children and young adults


What Help Is Available

There are many ways to get the help and support you need during deployment. You’re not alone in the way you and your family feel at this time, so help is always at hand. 

The best places to start are the Family and Friends of Deployed Units (FAFDU), Team Around Ships and Units (TASU), the dedicated RNRM Welfare Team and the RN Forums.

RN Forums.

Getting In Touch With The Deployed

Staying in touch with your loved one make deployment much more straight forward. 

-1 Homecoming

What To Expect (Emotions And Behaviours)

Four to six weeks before your deployed loved one is due home, it’s common for contradictory feelings to surface. The sense of “I’m not ready” (particularly if the to-do list is incomplete) is often at odds with a feeling of joy and excitement in anticipation of being together again. Feelings of apprehension surface as well, although they are usually left unexpressed. 

This is a time to re-evaluate the relationship. By definition and circumstance, the deployment will have been filled with a new routine, work, friends and interests. Making room again can naturally bring about nerves, tension and apprehension (“I want him/her back but what am I going to have to give up?”).

Equally, since things will have changed, concerns about the ‘new routine’ are natural: will they understand and accept the changes that have occurred? Will they approve of the decisions made? Returning partners may be anxious too (“How have we changed? How will I be accepted? Will the kids know me?”). 


How To Prepare (Practical Help)

On a practical level, getting ready for the homecoming can seem like an unending task, with a million-and-one things to think about and do. This is completely natural, but try not to get bogged down; instead, focus on the positives: your loved will soon be home to his/her family. Planning a homecoming event of some sort can be particularly helpful at this time, especially if children are involved. 

The RN Forums are an invaluable source of help and support if you have any concerns and wish to share.

RN Forums

What To Say And Do At This Time (Communication)

What Will Children Be Feeling

What Help Is Available

Getting In Touch With The Deployed

Get In Touch

If you are after information then all the contact details you need are right here.

If you have a Welfare related issue you can call Royal Navy Royal Marines Welfare direct on the number below.

If you are after some information or advice then our Welfare Information Support Team are on hand to help.

Or if you prefer to use Social Media you can also post on our Facebook page, Tweet us @RNRMWelfare #RNRMW, or join the Royal Navy forum.

+44(0)2392 728777

Welfare Information Support