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Support Network Communications Plan

1. Your Communication is Your Relationship

Separation from loved ones is a stressor that directly impacts the resiliency of IA Sailors.  When IA Sailors and their loved ones don't discuss in advance about expectations with regard to communication mediums (Phone, email, letters etc.), especially frequency, one party is inevitably hurt or made unnecessarily anxious.  IA Sailors management (or mismanagement) of communication during separation can lead to more or less stress.  In extreme cases, the stress can lead to the degradation of the IA Sailor's ability to perform the mission or disruption to the Sailor's chain-of-command may occur when folks at home take extraordinary measures to establish contact with their Sailor such as initiating an AMCROSS protocol.

2. You Can Plan Your Communication

IA Sailors can take some basic steps to mitigate the risk of otherwise avoidable relationship issues while down-range.  Setting low expectations and striving to exceed them is always a better plan than ambiguity.

3. Frequency, Media & Content

The steps below represent some minimal actions IA Sailors can take during pre-deployment to prepare for a more successful deployment and eventual return. Additionally, Military One Source has some excellent resources including These Boots, How to Successfully Communicate As a Couple, Keeping Your Marriage Strong through Separations, Staying in Touch When Your Service Member is Deployed and Staying Involved in Your Child's or Teenager's Life When You're Deployed.  Pay attention to the lessons learned from other IA couples when considering R&R leave and homecoming.
  • Be aware of the emotional ups and downs of deployment for the left-behind loved ones. 
  • Make a plan as to the frequency of communication that those at home can expect to hear from you.  Talk with your in-country POC first to understand what your availability and access to communication methods might reasonably be. Make a plan you can execute.  One of the most stressful issues for those at home is when IA Sailors are overdue for communication.
  • Make a plan for the medium of communication: whether email, phone calls, letters, packages or otherwise.
  • Make a plan to address the content of communication.  Many couples have been helped by determining in advance what topics they want/do not want to talk about.  For example, a spouse at home may not want to know that you came under fire yesterday.  It may help if you and your loved ones establish in advance what topics you will and will not discuss.
  • For more information, refer to the Coping with Separation page on this site.