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Staying or Moving When Your Spouse Is Deployed

Father and son packing boxes

Your spouse is deploying, and you might be tempted to pack up and move closer to your family. The change of scenery might be nice, your parents could help with the children and you could reconnect with old friends — all great things to distract you from the deployment. However, staying put has its own advantages.

Deciding to stay or move is a family decision. Consider how moving will affect different parts of your life, such as finances, medical access, employment, family time and your support system. If you have questions or need assistance, you can contact your installation relocation professionals.

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Plan My Deployment is a planning tool that helps service members and families manage and build resilience through every phase of deployment.

Making the right decision

Here are some things to consider as you make your decision:

  • Your ties to the community: A support system is key to helping you through the potential challenges during a deployment. If you already have a strong support network through your community or family ties, take that into consideration as you decide where to go.
  • Your children: Your children’s routines and schedules should be a factor in deciding whether or not to move. Before you make the decision to move, consider school transitions and the adjustment process, child care options and potential disruptions to sports and other activities.
  • Living arrangements: If you plan to move in with your parents or other relatives, discuss the arrangements. You may have good intentions, but sharing a bathroom or having extra cooks in the kitchen can bring on unexpected challenges.
  • Finances: Factor in financial aspects of the move. It is expensive to move your family twice — once when you leave and again when you move back to the installation after the deployment. Storing your possessions also costs money.
  • Housing benefits: Moving could affect your housing benefits. If you’ll be renting when you move, your Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, may not be enough to cover the rent because it’s based on the housing market where you currently live. If you live in government quarters, you could lose your housing if you leave. Check with your installation housing office about leaving your quarters vacant until you return after the deployment.
  • Special medical treatment or services: Specialized care and services may not be readily available in your new location for your exceptional family member or other family member receiving specialized care.

Staying on the installation

You may have several valid reasons for moving when your spouse deploys. However, living on the installation has certain advantages, too. Among them are:

  • Installation services: The commissary, exchange, recreational activities, Military and Family Support Center, MWR, family and community support, legal assistance and more are available to help save you money, offer support and keep you busy while your partner is away.
  • Unit activities: This is a great way to stay connected to your spouse’s unit and participate in programs for families going through deployment.
  • Medical care: Medical care is readily available on the installation or in the local community. Check with TRICARE for more information on medical services in different areas of the country.
  • Other military families: The comforting I-know-what-you’re-going-through support of other military families is something your friends and family back home may not be able to offer.
  • Safety and security: Staying on the installation can give your service member peace of mind knowing that you and your family are safe and secure.
  • Family routines: Keeping your regular routines during a deployment brings a sense of normalcy for your family. The same school, sports teams, Girl Scout or Boy Scout unit, piano lessons and clubs can keep your children occupied. Keeping your job and being familiar with the community businesses and resources can give you a sense of stability.
  • Settling into the military community: Putting down roots during the deployment can make your partner’s return home easier. This may or may not be the last deployment, so establishing routines and creating connections in the community can help you and your family master the challenges of military life.

Deciding to move

After you’ve considered all your options, you may decide that moving closer to home or somewhere else is best for you and your family. Here are some things to remember if you choose to move:

  • Give your contact information to your spouse’s unit.
  • Contact TRICARE. Talk with a TRICARE representative about how your health care benefits will cover you and your family.
  • Notify your installation housing office or your landlord that you’ll be moving.
  • Change your address with the post office. Make sure to forward your mail.
  • Keep in touch with your spouse’s unit contacts. Remember, there are many resources within the Military Family Readiness System to support you — chaplains, behavioral health professionals, the Military and Family Support Center or the MWR Program.
  • Stay connected to other military spouses, your service Family Readiness Group and other support programs. Your local Red Cross chapter and National Guard Family Program are great resources for information.

Military OneSource consultants can help you with your decision to stay or move. They are available 24/7 to provide personalized support for your service member’s deployment, your move or both. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS/international calling options or schedule a live chat.

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