When your loved one is away on an operational deployment it can be a difficult and lonely time. Although your friends and family will probably be your strongest support network, there is always someone in the Service or its support groups who you can turn to for guidance and support. Please remember that the Naval and Marines welfare support extends to every member of the family and a list of useful phone numbers and websites are included in this section.
Before the serving person leaves on deployment it is important to put things in order. Make a note of their Service details, their contact details during deployment and the important dates to remember as you will need this information whenever you make a phone call about them to someone in the Service. Many areas of your life will be affected by their departure but the deployment will be a lot easier to bear if you and your family are well prepared. Some key areas you might want to think about are in this section.
Points of Contact
If something serious happens to your loved one on deployment the Service will normally tell you in person and as soon as possible. If you have a concern please get in touch with RN/RM Welfare.
Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) – Provides an emergency casualty and compassionate reporting centre for all the Armed Forces. If your relative is overseas and a situation calls for their return on compassionate grounds you must contact the JCCC on: +44 (0)1452 519951 to apply for their return. The helpline is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All Service personnel deploying should have received a JCCC card to pass on to their family for information purposes. If you have not received such a card, click here to print off a copy.
Royal Navy Website
The Royal Navy Community Website has a dedicated Deployment page, which provides guidance on how to prepare your family emotionally, domestically and financially for deployment. There is also a section specifically for children and deployment.
SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) – Host a free, confidential support line. Their experienced civilian staff provide a friendly listening and advisory service for serving personnel, their families and former members of the Armed Forces. To contact them from the UK please call the freephone number: 0845 241 7141 open every weekday 0900-1730.
Forceline freephone numbers:
UK: 0800 731 4880
Germany: 0800 1827 395
Cyprus: 800 91065
Falkland Islands: #6111
Rest of the World: +44 (0)2074 639292
To call from Operational Theatres: Use Paradigm’s phone system and dial the appropriate access number then enter *201 at the PIN prompt.
Royal Navy website – The Royal Navy website has a dedicated Deployment page, with a section specifically for children and deployment. The page offers general advice about supporting children before, during and after deployments, with links to helpful resources, such as the ‘When a Special Person Goes Away Workbook’.
Supporting Children and Families during Deployment
Mobility and deployment are fundamental aspects of Service life, which can bring about unique challenges for families. The Service Children’s Education (SCE) organisation has put together a number of resources to support families during these times. The SCE provide guidance which draws on the experiences of service families and a wide range of support organisations. Visit their website to access helpful resources.
Storybook Waves is a project whereby personnel about to deploy can record bedtime stories for their children, for them to play while the parent is away.
Numerous Royal Naval and Royal Marines bases and establishments around the country offer opportunities to record stories. For more information on making a recording please contact Aggie Weston’s on: 0300 30 20 183 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Storybook Waves has partnered with Reading Force. This means that each parent who records a Storybook CD will be given a free book and a Reading Force scrapbook, enriching the child’s experience of the story.
Private Fostering – If you are due to deploy and are organising childcare arrangements with a relative or close friend, please check the regulations regarding private fostering. If an individual is looking after someone else’s child for more than 28 days they must notify their local council – failure to do so is a criminal offence. Click here for further details.
Families & Friends of Deployed Units (FAFDU)
FAFDU run free/low cost social events around the country for the wives, partners, parents and children of personnel serving away from home. The events are a great opportunity to meet up and have fun with people in a similar situation to you. For upcoming events contact your nearest branch:
Royal Navy website
The Royal Navy website has a dedicated Deployment page.
It is important that the Service has up-to-date information to contact you in emergencies. If your house will be empty and you live in Service Families Accommodation you can inform the Military Police. For more advice on this matter please contact RN/RM Welfare.
If the birth of a child is expected, or the anticipated due date changes, make sure your serving person keeps their Divisional Officer informed. It may not always be possible for your partner to return home from operations but if no one knows then it certainly won’t happen.
The readjustment to ‘normality’ after a Service person has been away from home for a long period of time can be difficult. The returning person can upset routines that may be in place, or a partner may feel undermined at giving up control of things they have managed perfectly well during the deployment. Homecomings from theatre can be especially difficult as Service personnel may bring home unpleasant memories, or feel that their family has ‘had it easy’ and wouldn’t understand what they have experienced.
Just as you got yourself ready for their departure, you must also prepare yourself for their return. Knowing what to expect, and having some plans for how you will deal with issues that may occur will help to minimise any stresses and strains of readjustment.
Usually, it can take a few weeks for things to get back to normal, and the key here is communication. Talking through any negative feelings and giving yourselves time to reacquaint should ease any problems, but every couple will find their own way and get there in the end.
The serving person may need to go on Decompression when they return from deployment.
Coming Home Booklet – Click on the image on the left to read a helpful booklet tackling the subject of homecoming after a deployment. The booklet is aimed at the serving person and looks at a range of emotions, coping skills and issues, including how to share your experiences.
The Trauma Risk Management Stress Handbook – Click on the image on the right to read the booklet from the Trauma Risk Management (TRIM) team which offers advice on coping with a traumatic event. This booklet outlines the coping strategies and assistance that is available to individuals serving in the Naval Service.