By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON (1/10/13) - A new Defense Department resource helps troops and their families plan for the “before, during and after” of deploying.
Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s office for family policy, explained “Plan My Deployment” during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
“This is a new, interactive, online tool that supports service members and their families as they prepare for the different stages of deployment,” she said.
The new resource guides users through the “ins and outs” of deployment, Thompson said: from power of attorney and legal assistance considerations to financial and emotional issues. Other tips and tools address education and training benefits, she added.
“We modeled this after the very, very popular ‘Plan My Move,’ which helps with [permanent change of station] moves,” she said. “It’s the same kind of approach: we look at providing the tools and information, and you tailor it to your individual family’s needs.”
Plan My Deployment saves the user’s information, she said, so people can exit from the site and return at their convenience, picking up where they left off.
Though other deployment planning guides and resources already exist, Thompson said, DOD leaders wanted to offer family readiness assistance to the entire active duty, National Guard and Reserve force and their families.
While the pace of deployment across the services has dropped since U.S. forces left Iraq and will continue to decline as the combat mission in Afghanistan draws to an end, Thompson said, service members always will face the possibility of deploying for duty.
“Let’s face it: military members deploy all the time. … We’ve learned a lot of lessons during this long-term conflict, and we want to make sure that our service members and their families are prepared for what’s in the future,” she said.
Plan My Deployment is available at DOD’s Military OneSource website, which also offers a range of other services for military families, she said. Thompson pointed out the site is “outside the gates” in the public domain, so it is available to extended family members who don’t have access to military facilities.