By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
Military deployments can occur to both active-duty servicemembers and reservists with only a limited amount of advance notice. Ideally, servicemembers, reservists and their families should be ready prepared for a deployment at any time. By having your personal affairs in order, that state of readiness reduces the stress associated with military deployments, especially if a deployment will limit communication with loved ones and friends back home.
Become Familiar with Laws Concerning Military Deployments
Before deployment, understanding your rights as a servicemember is essential. For example, you should be familiar with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This law enables servicemembers being deployed to terminate a lease with a landlord if necessary.
This act applies to active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members on active-duty orders and reservists called to active duty. In addition, it can be used to end an automotive lease when servicemembers are deployed for six months.
Another important law for deployed servicemembers is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which is especially useful for reservists who are deployed to active duty. This legislation is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service. It creates the right to be re-hired in a civilian job, offers protection from discrimination and retaliation by a civilian employer, and provides protection for healthcare insurance.
According to the Department of Labor, USERRA provides protection for civilian employees who are called to active duty. It also mandates that after military deployments, employees can be restored to the position and benefits they would have received if they were not absent due to military service.
Writing a Checklist for Military Deployments
Developing a pre-deployment checklist is a good idea and will ensure your readiness for military deployments. The checklist should include essential items for the deployed servicemember and family members.
Important papers, including the checklist, should be kept in a binder in case they are needed later. According to Military.com, these important papers include:
- A will for both the servicemember and his/her spouse
- Power of attorney
- Life insurance information
- A list of important phone numbers
- Financial statements
- Insurance policies
- Court orders such as child support and custody documents
- A list of bills and due dates
- A list of computer and banking passwords
- Tax records
The binder should also contain a flow chart with specific directions of what a spouse should do if a servicemember is missing or deceased. Although these events are unlikely, a deployment checklist should cover any contingency.
The military also offers additional resources to servicemembers and their families. For instance, U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance provides guidance regarding general legal services. Similarly, military spouses should have access to the Military Family Readiness System, which offers programs and services to enhance military family readiness and resilience through deployment assistance.
Preparedness and planning are essential in dealing with military deployments. Although watching a family member depart for deployment isn’t easy, remaining ready for military deployments can be helpful.