When a parent gets deployed overseas, their loved ones must help their children understand how military deployment works. Despite this extraordinary challenge, you can help loved ones of all ages navigate such emotional and developmental hurdles with a deployment display, celebrations from overseas, and other strategies. Similarly, when service members experience a debilitating injury or illness on deployment, Luke’s Wings steps in to help with flights for military spouses and families.

An unflinching supporter of our nation’s heroes, Luke’s Wings offers free emergency travel planning and airline tickets to loved ones of qualifying wounded, ill, or injured service members. Our services allow families to reunite for emergent care needs, provide continuous support during recovery, and be together for the holidays. If you wish to donate to or volunteer for those in our armed forces, call (800) 609-9920 and learn more about our services to military families.

Below, we offer some strategies to navigate a loved one’s deployment:

Create a Deployment Display

Children of all ages can struggle with the idea that a parent will be absent for extended periods of time. Military service can feel like an abstract concept to them, as they may lack any reference to understand it. However, a deployment wall or display—perhaps a surface in the kitchen or table in the home—helps make deployment more concrete and recognizable.

Generally, these interactive spaces include a map with a pin to indicate where your loved one is stationed. A clock with your loved one’s local time, letters, and a calendar counting down the days remaining on deployment also work well in such a display. Making the space interactive helps all family members feel “in the loop” about the deployment.

Observe Celebrations from the Deployed Parent’s Location

Celebrations and holidays are great ways to mark the passage of time during a loved one’s deployment. They also offer ideal opportunities to support service members the world over. Yet celebrating holidays from a deployed parent’s region can help children feel close to their loved one by providing a window into the parent’s lived, daily experience.

Mark Time in Concrete Ways

flights for military

Since 6 or 12 months can seem impossibly long to young children, help them look forward to their parent’s return by marking time. Providing tangible indicators allows you to do so. For example, suggest they write a letter once a month and include it in a care package for your service member. Your children can count down the remaining letters until their loved one returns.

Teach Children Deployment Language and Concepts

Finally, consider how you can introduce the language of deployment to service members’ children. While they may struggle to comprehend why a parent leaves for long stretches and what they do overseas, children can grow familiar with the ideas and grasp the concept over time. 

Doing so need not entail tricky terrain (like financial planning for military families) because simple facts alone can empower them. Should a parent suffer injury or illness while on tour, children can better understand the need to travel and help their loved ones heal. More than sheltering them from what deployment involves, these strategies help ease the burden of such a difficult situation.

Emergency Flights for Military Families Available through Luke’s Wings

The men and women who protect our nation deserve all the support we can offer. That’s why the Luke’s Wings team provides emergency travel planning services and flights for military families of wounded, ill, and injured service members during hospital recovery and rehabilitation. To learn more about our volunteer opportunities and how you can support the US armed forces, call us at (800) 609-9920.