Staying Financially Fit With Financial Assistance, Counseling and Resources

hands taking notes and holding phone

Current as of Nov. 24, 2020

Your military member is trained to stay focused on the mission at hand. But personal and family concerns can make that hard to do. And financial hardship is one common stressor that is on the rise.

If your service member has seen a drop in family income due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, is struggling with managing a paycheck for the first time, or is facing money troubles for other reasons, help is available. This includes service members and their immediate family having access to free resources such as financial counseling and emergency financial assistance.

Emergency relief for service members

When money is already tight, a job loss, costly car repair or other unexpected expense can increase debt quickly. But service members who are struggling to pay the rent or utilities may qualify for short-term help.

Each branch of the service has an emergency relief organization. Depending on the circumstances, these organizations provide interest-free loans, grants or a combination of both:

Financial counseling can help now and for the future

Free financial counseling is available virtually through Military OneSource, and in person through installation programs. Financial counselors are experts in money management and are familiar with the issues that service members face. They can help your service member:

  • Come up with a plan to pay back debt
  • Take steps to resolve credit problems through referrals to appropriate military and civilian resources
  • Create a budget and control spending
  • Save for short- and long-term goals such as buying a car or home, or saving for college

Learn more about free financial management counseling options through Military OneSource.

Your service member can schedule one-on-one financial counseling through:

Free financial education builds knowledge

Military OneSource and installations offer free financial management classes, seminars, online tools and more. Your service member can check the installation’s Financial Readiness Management Programs to see what’s available. There are virtual options, too, including:

  • Money Matter courses. These 45-minute courses were developed by financial experts who understand military life. Topics cover car-buying strategies, consumer credit, developing a spending plan, investing in your future and moving in the military.
  • Consumer, business and financial publications are free for your service member through the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library. Publications include Consumer Reports, Business Plan Builder, Entrepreneurship, Morningstar Investment Research Center and Weiss Financial Ratings.

Financial protections for service members

Your service member makes many sacrifices to serve our country. Financial hardships due to the demands of active duty or unethical lenders should not be among them. That’s why the federal government has added a layer of financial protection specifically for military members.

  • The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides service members with financial and legal protections for financial hardships brought on by the demands of active duty. These range from interest rate reductions to eviction protection.
  • The Military Lending Act protects service members and their families from predatory lenders who charge high interest rates and fees.

Help your service member stay mission ready and financially fit with the help of these free resources. Your service member can find more financial tools, information and resources, including military pay charts and calculators, on Military OneSource’s Personal Finances in the Military page.

Your service member doesn’t have to face financial hardship alone. Free information, resources and counseling are available.

Deployment Basics By Service Branch

Service members walk towards their next location.

At some point in your loved one’s military service, you’ll probably hear the words, “I’m deploying.” What does that really mean, and how can you support your service member?

The word deployment can mean different things, depending on your service member’s job, and their unit and service branch, but it generally means a scheduled time away from the usual duty station, and usually outside of the United States. It may mean seven months on a Navy ship, 12 months at a forward operating base or three months in a town with restaurants and shops you’d recognize back home. Sometimes, your service member may serve in dangerous situations, but they have intense training and are well prepared for the challenges they may face in their specific mission.

The deployment cycle is the period of time from the notification of a deployment, through predeployment training, through the deployment and immediately after deployment. Every deployment cycle is different, but here are some general things to know:

Army deployment

Soldiers can deploy in large or small groups, or even individually. Many soldiers will do predeployment training at large training centers such as the National Training Center, the Joint Readiness Training Center, or at specific training centers located at bases across the country. An average deployment cycle will include months of training at their home base and at these specialized courses.

Soldiers with specific skills may go individually or in smaller units. They will have different types of training requirements based on the job, their prior preparation and the location of the deployment.

Learn more about Army deployments »

Marine Corps deployment

Many Marine Corps deployments happen on Navy ships, or they may fly to their deployment location. The majority of Marine Corps deployments include approximately one year of training followed by six to seven months of actual deployment time. However, a significant number of Marine Corps deployments may be scheduled for one year or more.

The Marine Corps prepares to support a wide variety of missions, often on short notice. Deployment types include training exercises, force readiness, supporting ongoing missions and humanitarian support.

Learn more about Marine Corps deployments »

Navy deployment

Many Navy deployments are on ships or submarines. Whether your service member is permanently assigned to the ship or sub, or joining the vessel as part of a separate unit such as an aircraft squadron, they’ll spend many months before the deployment participating in a wide variety of training both on and off the ship or sub. Ship or sub-based deployments typically last six or seven months, though occasionally, they will go longer. The time at sea may be broken up by port calls, where the ship pulls into a town and the sailors are permitted to go ashore and enjoy some time off.

Sailors who deploy without a ship or sub may go to a variety of locations to perform a wide range of jobs. Their predeployment training may be part of their regular job, so there may not be much disruption to their regular schedule, or they may need to learn entirely new skills for the deployment. These deployments may be with Navy units, joint units or they may be assigned to a unit of a different branch of the military. The latter is usually called an individual augmentee job. Sailors deployed without a ship or a sub may go for as little as 30 days or for more than a year.

Learn more about Navy deployments »

Air Force deployment

Airmen participate in many different types of deployments. Most Air Force deployments involve flying to another location, often an overseas Air Force base, a joint base or the base of another service. Airmen may live on those bases or stay in hotels.

Some Air Force units have a faster deployment cycle, with shorter deployments and shorter times between deployments. While they still may follow the six to 12-month average of the other branches, they may also do a series of two to three-month deployments in quick succession. Differences in deployment tempo are usually based upon job and unit.

Learn more about Air Force deployments »

How You Can Support Your Service Member

Deployment can bring about a wide range of emotions for both the service member and the family at home. They may be excited to do the job for which they’ve trained, sad to be apart from their family and perhaps nervous about how the deployment will unfold. It’s natural to feel all these things, sometimes all at the same time.

Realistic expectations are an important part of making it through the deployment cycle. Three key things to remember throughout the process:

  1. Your service member has been training to use their skills during a deployment. They are well prepared to do this job and may be very focused on the mission they’re doing.
  2. Things can, and will, change frequently. Trainings and deployments can be moved up, delayed or cancelled altogether. Departure and return dates will shift. Communication may be limited. The more understanding you are, the more your service member will feel supported.
  3. Your service member will not be able to answer all your questions. Your loved one may not know the answer to your question, or they may not be able to tell you the things they do know.

You can help your service member by asking what they want and how you can help. For example, they may want you to come to homecoming for one deployment but not for another, based upon a wide variety of factors including location, likelihood of date changes and post-deployment requirements. They may need help with things like paying bills or storing their car.

It’s also smart to talk through a couple of “what-if” scenarios and to get some basic information. Be sure you know the specific name of their unit and at least one phone number to call if there is an emergency back home.

Whether you are a parent, sibling or friend, you probably have a lot of questions about your loved one’s deployment. Feel more prepared with Military OneSource’s Plan My Deployment and the predeployment checklist.

VISIT PLAN MY DEPLOYMENT

Check out the rest of the Friends & Extended Family content on Military OneSource to keep connected with your service member’s military life.

How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Military family sitting and laughing together at home

Current as of March 26, 2020

You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your life from being a member of the military community. That “roll-with-it” attitude will guide you as you help your family learn ways to reduce stress and build resiliency while spending more time together during the coronavirus quarantine. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Stay calm

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase the stress on your family. Focus on what you can control by employing some of the following strategies:

  • Lead by example. Your kids are watching how you handle the quarantine and they will pick up on your stress. Do your best to model healthy ways to handle stress by using coping skills when you feel stress building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you watch or read the news. Start with 10 minutes a day, and adjust depending on what works for you. Follow these stress relief tips throughout the day and share them with your family.
  • Keep your children informed. Ask your children what they know about the coronavirus and what they are concerned about. Talk with your children about coronavirus and provide age-appropriate, reliable information to clear up any misunderstandings they may have. Help them focus on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed specifically for service members and families.
  • Stick to a schedule. Structure can bring you a sense of calm and certainty during this uncertain time. If you are working from home, here are some Tips for Teleworking During the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Stay connected

Family, friends and your military community can provide support and strength at times like this. Consider these ideas to stay connected while keeping your distance.

  • Remain in touch with family and friends. Schedule time to connect with family and friends through virtual coffee dates or dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include the kids, perhaps showing off their artwork. You’ll brighten peoples’ day with mail from your family.
  • Flex your muscles together. Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Engage the family in a game of tag or by taking turns creating balance challenges and scoring it like the game of H-O-R-S-E in basketball. Create an obstacle course in the house or yard and time each other as you run, walk, crab walk, walk backward, or skip through the course. Be creative. Go on a “Simon Says” walk around the house or yard and take turns being the leader.
  • Use your military community resources. If finances are causing you stress, review your options on Military OneSource. There are different relief organizations that may be able to address your specific situation.
  • Read together. Couch cuddles while reading to your kids can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time. Something you all do from separate rooms to give you space to relax. Use your Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library for video books that read to kids, or eBooks for older kids and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with kids by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and doing the dishes. Doing these activities together teaches them life skills and, more importantly, creates a space for them to talk about whatever is on their minds. They tend to talk more when doing tasks beside you versus talking face to face.

Military families tend to be resilient. Keep reaching toward your family and military community for support and know that Military OneSource is always here to serve and support you.

Stay current

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. Select legitimate sources that provide facts and not escalating drama. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

More Parenting Resources for Managing at Home During COVID-19

A woman sits with her children on a sofa.

Current as of May 19, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions are beginning to relax. However, many parents are still working and teaching their children at home. And that can be exhausting. The Department of Defense is committed to helping you manage. Add some new activities to your toolkit. Try some apps for self-care. And reach out for support if you need it. Here are resources to help you stay the course.

Activities resources

For preschool age children:

For youth and teens:

You may be schooling at home. Your children may be finishing the year online. But free online learning resources can help. The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library, for example, has resources for all ages.

Another resource for military youth and teens is Military Kids Connect. It lets children connect to an online community of other military kids. It has teen-led tours, a message board and more. Try this link they suggest for some fun NASA activities to do at home.

Resilience resources

Military families know that life challenges can inspire us to be our best selves. This time at home lets us practice stress-management skills and try new tools. These resources can build resilience:

  • These recommended wellness apps are free. You can use them on your mobile device. So they can go with you anywhere. Some are designed for service members and parents. Others are designed for children, like Parenting2Go, and Sesame Street’s Breathe, Think, Do.
  • The Department of Defense provides free, confidential, non-medical counseling to service members and their families. Licensed counselors are available 24/7. Learn more or call 800-342-9647. Online chat and OCONUS call options are also available.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Need more ideas for managing children at home during COVID-19? Try this updated list of parenting resources.

COVID-19 Resources for Parents With Children With Special Needs

Military family of four playing in front of their house

Current as of Sept 30, 2020


As a military parent with a child or children with special needs, you may now face additional challenges due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Your daily routines have changed. Your responsibilities have increased. This can be stressful and feel overwhelming.

If you are feeling isolated, stressed and anxious, even small things can help. Take advantage of resources for information, comfort and ideas on resiliency, self-care and more.

Resources

The Department of Defense is committed to supporting military parents of children with special needs. Here are a few resources, tools and articles for you and your child as you cope with COVID-19 changes.

One day this pandemic will be behind us. Until then, don’t forget that installation EFMP Family Support and EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations special needs consultants are ready to support you. Special needs consultations are available via phone or video session. Military families can make an appointment 24/7 with live chat or by calling 800-342-9647.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Department of Education Q&As on providing services to children with disabilities during the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak.

This Questions and Answers document outlines states’ responsibilities to infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families, and to the staff serving these children. During an outbreak of COVID-19, local educational agencies (LEAs) and early intervention service (EIS) programs will need to collaborate with their state educational agency (SEA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), or local public health department, as appropriate, to address questions about how, what, and when services should be provided to children with disabilities. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person. This Q & A document does not impose any additional requirements beyond those included in applicable law and regulations. The responses presented in this document generally constitute informal guidance representing the interpretation of the department of the applicable statutory or regulatory requirements in the context of the specific facts presented here and are not legally binding. The Q & As in this document are not intended to be a replacement for careful study of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), and their implementing regulations. The IDEA, its implementing regulations, and other important documents related to the IDEA can be found at http://sites.ed.gov/idea. For more information on the requirements of Section 504 and Title II, and their implementing regulations, consult https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disabilityoverview.html.

Section A: Implementing Part B of the IDEA and Section 504 during a COVID-19 outbreak

A.1: Is an LEA required to continue to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by a COVID-19 outbreak? add

A.2: Must an LEA provide special education and related services to a child with a disability who is absent for an extended period of time because the child is infected with COVID-19, while the schools remain open?add

A.3: What services must an LEA provide if a public school for children with disabilities is selectively closed due to the possibility of severe complications from a COVID-19 outbreak?add

A.4: If a child with a disability at high risk of severe medical complications is excluded from school during an outbreak of COVID-19 and the child’s school remains open, is the exclusion considered a change in educational placement subject to the protections of 34 CFR §§ 300.115 and 300.116 and 34 CFR §§ 104.35 and 104.36. add

A.5: May an IEP Team consider a distance-learning plan in a child’s IEP as a contingency plan in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak that requires the school’s closure? add

A.6: What activities other than special education and related services may and may not be provided with IDEA Part B funds both prior to and during a COVID-19 outbreak?add

IDEA Part C and COVID-19

B.1: Must a state lead agency continue to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities during a COVID-19 outbreak if the offices are closed? add

B.2: What should a state lead agency or EIS program provider do to provide Part C services if its offices are open, but it cannot provide services in accordance with an infant’s or toddler’s IFSP during a COVID-19 outbreak? add

B.3. What activities other than service provision may and may not be provided with IDEA Part C funds both prior to and during a potential COVID-19 outbreak? add

When You and Your Partner React Differently to COVID-19 Concerns — Tips for Communicating

Service member couple holding hands

Current as of March 23, 2020

To address the threat of COVID-19, public health leaders are calling on all of us to modify our behaviors, change our daily routines and make sacrifices. The Department of Defense has also introduced travel restrictions to keep service members and their families safe.

These adjustments can cause stress, and everyone reacts to stressful situations differently. Your partner’s response could be very unlike your own. For example, one of you may think you should deep clean the house, and the other may think it’s not necessary. Or one of you wants to keep going to social gatherings, while the other thinks you should stay at home and lock the doors.

Here are tips for improving your communication skills as you work through COVID-19 concerns together.

Cope With Stress as a Couple

The COVID-19 pandemic can strain even the strongest relationship. Review our guide for ways to cope.

Tips for Talking About COVID-19 Concerns

  • Be an active listener. Give each other your full attention, free of interruptions. Turn off the television, and let phone calls go to voicemail.
  • Show that you’re listening. Try repeating back what you heard through phrases such as, “So what you’re saying is…” or “If I understand you correctly, you feel…”
  • Pay attention to your body language. If you’re speaking in person or through video chat, uncross your arms, offer a smile and make eye contact with your partner.
  • Talk at a stress-free time. Avoid talking about the coronavirus or other sensitive issues when either of you is tired, hungry or pressed for time.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Using humor can break tension and help you connect through the stress and pressure caused by this situation.
  • Make “I” statements. Be specific about how you feel. Express your feelings with neutral comments such as “I feel…,” “I’m concerned that…,” or “I’m worried that…” instead of phrases that put people on the defensive, such as “You never…,” “You always …,” or “You’re so …”
  • Talk about the issue, not who’s right or wrong. Focus on finding specific solutions or answers instead of assigning blame.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s point of view. Make an effort to show you’re listening and you understand, even if you don’t agree.
  • Take a break if needed. Take 15 minutes to be alone and calm down if your conversation becomes heated or you’re on the verge of saying things you’ll regret. Commit to revisiting the issue when your emotions are under control.

More Information and Support for Military Families

As we combat the coronavirus in the days ahead, the Department of Defense will continue to prioritize the safety of service members and their families. Military OneSource can connect you to a range of related information, services and support.

More Resources for Improving Relationships and Communication

Now and always, Military OneSource can connect you to resources for making your relationship healthy and strong.

  1. Watch free webinars to boost your communication skills. Choose from topics including:
  2. Get a free Building Healthy Relationships education-based consultation designed to strengthen your relationships. Counselors can tailor this series of personalized coaching sessions to help you set goals and strengthen your communication skills. Once customized, counselors can deliver the consultation to you by phone or video. Choose from six customized tracks that you can take from the comfort of your own home.
  3. Love Every Day is a fun and interactive digital tool that helps you develop and practice good relationship communication in only a few minutes each day. You get personalized text messages for 21 days to help foster a renewed sense of connection. By making intimate communication a consistent part of your daily routine, you and your partner learn to apply the skills in everyday life.

Our understanding of the coronavirus is changing rapidly. With the tips and resources listed above, and accurate information, you can keep your conversations constructive and productive. Stay up to date on the latest information by checking the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Thrive Helps Military Parents and Children

A service member greets his young daughter

The Department of Defense is committed to the health and well-being of military children and families. That’s why DOD teamed with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State to create a parenting-education program.

Thrive is a free online program for busy parents like you. It promotes positive parenting, stress management and healthy lifestyle practices. Find out how Thrive can help you raise healthy, resilient children from birth to 18.

How does Thrive Work?

Thrive has four interactive modules organized by age group:

  • Take Root: for children ages 0-3
  • Sprout: for children ages 3-5
  • Grow: for children ages 5-10
  • Branch Out: for children ages 10-18 (Coming in 2021)

Each module has tips for your child’s level. Build on strengths you have and develop new skills as your child grows and changes. Suggestions include how to:

  • Find a parenting style that works for your family.
  • Help your child make good decisions, master new skills and more.
  • Support your child with positive discipline techniques.
  • Model an active lifestyle.
  • Manage stress.
  • Be a positive role model.
  • Communicate with your partner or support circle.
  • Plan and prepare healthy meals.
  • Manage screen time.

Check out these helpful parent-resource infographics for a sample of the program.

How is Thrive different from other parenting programs?

Thrive grows with your child. The four age-group tracks are free, available in online formats and immediately accessible.

Other benefits of Thrive include:

  • It provides program choices that fit your family.
  • It promotes social-emotional, cognitive and physical health.
  • It is flexible. Pause your session at any time.
  • It is interactive and fun.
  • It is available to the public and shareable with family members and caregivers.

Whether you are expecting your first baby or raising teens, let Thrive support you along the way. Learn more and enroll in the program today. Find information about other parenting resources on Military OneSource.

Parenting questions? We all have them. Thrive is a free, online parenting-education program. It provides evidence-informed best practices for raising healthy, resilient children from birth to 18.

Military and Family Life Counseling Program: What’s New, What’s Stayed the Same

A couple laughing

Current as of May 4, 2020

The Military and Family Life Counseling Program can help you stay strong through life’s challenges, including those due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. We will offer telephonic and video sessions in areas where face-to-face support is restricted.

What is the Military and Family Life Counseling Program?

Military families face unique challenges, such as deployments and moving. The Military and Family Life Counseling Program offers free, short-term, non-medical counseling to service members, Department of Defense expeditionary civilians, their families and survivors.

Non-medical counselors are available through one-on-one, couple or group sessions to help with:

  • Managing stress and changes at home due to COVID-19
  • Adjusting to deployment
  • Preparing to move or adjusting after a move
  • Strengthening relationships
  • Managing problems at work
  • Grieving the death of a loved one or colleague

What’s new?

The Military and Family Life Counseling Program now offers telephonic and video non-medical counseling. This is available in areas where face-to-face support may be restricted due to COVID-19. Contact Military OneSource for contact information and a warm hand-off to your closest military and family life counselor for telephonic or video non-medical counseling.

What’s the same?

The Military and Family Life Counseling Program is here to support you with free non-medical counseling by licensed master’s- or doctorate-level counselors. Sessions are confidential with the exception of child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, harm to self or others, and illegal activity.

Counselors who specialize in child and youth behavioral issues are available to support children and teens with non-medical counseling.

Military OneSource also offers non-medical counseling by phone, live chat, video, or face-to-face where permitted. Children and teenagers may meet with a Military OneSource non-medical counselor by phone or video, as well as face-to-face where permitted.

How to get help

Contact your installation’s Military and Family Support Center to set up non-medical counseling through the Military and Family Life Counseling Program.

You can reach a child and youth behavioral military and family life counselor through:

  • A child development center
  • Your installation’s youth and teen center
  • Your child’s public school on or off the installation
  • A youth summer camp sponsored by your military service
  • Your commander or unit training point of contact

To connect with your closest military and family life counselor, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 for contact information and a warm hand-off. Click here for calling options if you are outside the continental United States.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms, and continue to visit the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates. Check Move.mil for PCS-related updates.

Resources to Promote Well-being During COVID-19

Woman in air force wearing protective mask

Current as of May 19, 2020

As coronavirus disease 2019 persists, and with uncertainty over what daily life might look like for at least the foreseeable future, it is important for service providers to be able to access resources to help service members and their families.

This includes having access to information on topics, such as managing stress, maintaining mental well-being and staying strong in the face of the pandemic.

Where to find the information you need to help others

Resources are available to help service members and their families, leadership and health care providers, including:

Helping service members add
Resources for families add
Information for leaders add
Resources for health care providers add

COVID Coach app a military community resource

The COVID Coach app is a resource that can help everyone in the military community maintain mental health during the pandemic. The app has four categories: “Manage Stress,” “Learn,” “Mood Check” and “Find Resources.”

“Manage Stress” is broken down into subtopics, including:

  • Coping with stress
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Handling anger and irritability
  • Navigating relationships

“Learn” offers tools designed to help individuals:

  • Stay well
  • Stay balanced
  • Stay together
  • Stay safe
  • Stay healthy

“Mood Check” allows users to:

  • Set a goal
  • Track well-being
  • Track anxiety
  • Track mood
  • Track PTSD symptoms

“Find Resources” allows users to find content providing support in the following areas:

  • Crisis and substance abuse
  • General counseling
  • Financial resources and benefits
  • Local COVID-19 benefits

COVID Coach, which is no cost to service or family members, also includes guidance on how to get the most out of the app, as well as how to personalize it and manage data. Users can also share the app with people they know.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Transform Catastrophic Thinking Into Purposeful Action During Times of Crisis

Military male with arm around female

Current as of April 15, 2020

Do you find yourself worrying about the health of your loved ones? Anxious about the loss of a family member’s income? Wondering what your PCS will look like? Concerned about finding child care with school canceled?

With so much uncertainty and seemingly everything on the line because of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, it is not uncommon to have catastrophizing thoughts.

The Army Resilience Directorate offers the following information to help you turn catastrophic thinking into purposeful action.

What is catastrophic thinking?

Catastrophic thinking happens when thoughts lead to:

  • Worst-case scenarios
  • High levels of anxiety
  • “What-ifs” that may not be realistic

For example, you worry about the gym being closed and instead of finding another way to prepare for your physical fitness test, you come to the conclusion that you’ll fail the test and your military career will suffer.

Why it’s important to stop catastrophizing

You are less likely to find solutions when you’re dwelling on the worst that can happen. That’s because:

  • Anxiety creates a strong fight-or-flight response. The release of the stress hormone cortisol may limit your ability to think critically and creatively.
  • You waste critical energy by planning for a worst-case scenario that isn’t likely to happen.
  • You focus on areas that are out of your control.

Talk to a Licensed Counselor.

Schedule confidential, personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

How can I stop catastrophizing?

Turn to strategies that help you think in a more productive way. Barbara Fredrickson’s research-based broaden and build theory can help your mind and body shift from the fight-or-flight response to a problem-solving mode. The theory states that positive emotions help to calm us so we can think more clearly and creatively.

There are 3 steps to the theory:

Step 1:

Notice when catastrophic thoughts have hijacked your attention or are causing worry, stress or anxiety.

Step 2:

Recognize that you’re not your best when under stress. Have a plan to shift to a more positive emotion. You might call a loved one, watch funny videos or practice deep breathing. Even telling yourself your thoughts are unrealistic can ease your stress and give you hope.

Step 3:

Address the problem once you’re thinking clearly. Focus on the areas where you have control. You may surprise yourself with a novel, creative solution. Using positive emotions to accurately assess the facts and tap into your creativity can help you make good decisions and solve problems, now and in the future.

If you need immediate help or are experiencing a crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and Press 1.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

With so much uncertainty and seemingly everything on the line because of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, it is not uncommon to have catastrophizing thoughts.