Homecoming - A Family's Guide
Op Herrick 12 Deployment Survey Report
Changes to Rest and Recuperation (R&R) Policy
Deployment tips to help children
Hello from Home
Deployment Guide for the families of deployed Regular Army personnel
Deployment Guide for the families of mobilised members of the Territorial Army and the Regular Reserve
Deployment - Useful Telephone Numbers
Operational Welfare Package – phone calls
Between February and November 2010, AFF surveyed the experiences and concerns of the families of soldiers deployed on OP HERRICK 12. The aim was to specifically identify issues which may not come to light in a Families’ Continuous Attitude Survey or AFF’s own Families’ Concerns. Where possible to address low-level issues from the perspective of those left behind caring about loved ones, while 4 Mechanised Brigade were in harm’s way in Afghanistan.
The results have revealed a wide disparity in how Army families ‘feel’ before, during and after their brigade was engaged in protracted and well-publicised combat in Helmand. Contributions have been made from families whose soldiers have been significantly physically injured, and from those whose soldiers have been significantly mentally altered as a result of their experiences. The data is presented in three sections; Pre-deployment, Deployment, and Post-Deployment; themes are identified and conclusions drawn together in the summary.
Overall the experiences of families have been positive and they remain supportive of their soldier and unit. They generally empathised with the very difficult situation of unit rear parties, and understood the practicalities of Notification of Casualties (NOTICAS) and the difficulties of providing accurate information in the confusion of combat ops; “praise and thanks can never be enough for all that has been done for my soldier and us as a family”. Others have been less supportive of the whole experience and advised others to; “get divorced and marry a civvie”. There are however, many themes of best practice that emerge throughout the report and it is these that AFF seeks to present as recommendations to the Army, from the families’ perspective.
Links to the full report:
Secretary of State, Dr Liam Fox, has announced changes to the policy governing Rest and Recuperation (R&R) for Service Personnel deployed on operations. The Coalition Programme for Government laid out the Government’s intention to rebuild the Armed Forces Covenant, including optimising R&R for those deployed.
Personnel deploying for six months will remain eligible for one period of 14 days’ R&R. With immediate effect personnel who lose out on R&R, whether as a result of operations or as a result of transit delays, will be granted additional Post Operational Leave (POL) in lieu to compensate.
Service Chiefs have also recommended that those Service personnel due to deploy on short tours will in future be posted for less than four months therefore removing the need for them to take R&R. This will help to ease the pressure on military flights and minimise delays. This will mainly affect RAF personnel.
The changes for those serving six-month tours will be effective immediately. The policy to reduce short tour length to under four months will take effect on or after 1st January 2011. Personnel currently in theatre or warned for duty will not be affected by the change.
Many thanks to all those who have been in touch via our internet forums to tell us about how they or their schools have dealt with the issue of deployment for their children. We will keep adding to this document, so please share your tips – nothing is too small to mention, and anything can make a difference.
Using a world map so that children can see where Mum or Dad is, perhaps marking this with stickers and sharing it with others.
Making up pocket-sized photo albums for children and the deploying parent – this can always be kept handy to flick through.
A collage of photos of the deployed parent, kept close to where a child can regularly see it. Recommended for babies!
Get the deploying parent to record a few video clips that can be run on the computer at any time – special messages, songs to keep the loved one feeling close.
Instead of counting down the days until R&R/end of tour on a calendar, fill a jar with sweets – one a day until they come home, only 2 sweets to go!
“We always do a memory box before dad goes away, he puts things in for them and they put things in themselves, we then make him up a little box and sneak it into his bergen before he leaves. We put things like photos, shells that we've collected at the beach, aftershave/perfume samples, a CD with a song that reminds them of him...normally something we all dance and sing to in the car on our endless journeys home! Then when they're having a day that they miss dad they have a moment to themselves with their box, always cheers them up.”
“Take the children to build a bear and then get dad to record a little bedtime message. The bedtime message can be put in the bear so that the children can hear dad’s voice every night before they go to sleep. My two have them, although my 13 year old would never admit to it, they sleep with them every night!”
Don't forget Storybook Soldiers. This is a scheme that allows soldiers to pre-record a bedtime story for their children. The reading is editing to remove background noise before adding sound effects and music. Contact your local HIVE or AEC for details or visit www.storybooksoldiers.co.uk
Daily or weekly homework clubs and monthly Saturday activities to take the pressure off the lone parent.
Ebluey opportunities for kids at lunchtime - even the smallest kids can log on and get help typing a bluey.
”When the regiment had their homecoming parade the whole school came to line the streets too.”
A smiley face board where children can put up a smiley face, a sad face or a 'not sure' face. The teacher/assistant could then talk to the child about what they were feeling.
Regular group get-togethers on dealing with children's emotions and behaviour would be good.
“Our current school is an international school and the Americans have a Hearts Apart programme where kids can go at lunch time to play, do craft and discuss how they feel if a parent is deployed. I'm told they can even go if they are missing extended family because they are posted overseas.”
The opportunity to draw pictures and write to the deployed parent at school, which could then be sent on in a parcel.
“My daughter took her atlas and a photo into school for circle time to talk about what her Daddy did and where he was.”
How to deal with media coverage - a circle time spent talking about what we see on the news and why they need to speak to the teacher if they have any questions.
Use the fax bluey forms for writing and drawing on, then send these via the welfare office fax bluey machine off to distant lands! This could even turn it into a class activity – ICT skills and purposeful writing - as many regiments have notice boards with messages of support pinned to them.
“One teacher taught all the children in year 1 to email and they sent a class email to my husband.”
Communication is essential - I have told my children’s new school that we are facing a separation of 1 year in October and they have been sympathetic and have informed the new teacher for next year.
Schools can make a special effort to ensure that Fathers/Mothers Day cards and the like are made and sent home well in advance to ensure that they can be received in theatre by the day itself.
It can be a tough time for the whole family when your soldier is deployed, especially for those too young to really understand, but now there is a charming activity book available free of charge to all families to help keep the little ones in touch with their parent. There are stickers, pictures to colour and, with a little help from the irresistibly cute Support Bear, your children can write postcards and letters about their day, their favourite things and everything that’s important to them and send it off to mummy or daddy in theatre. To obtain your copy, visit your Unit Welfare Office.
Ensure you have your copy of the latest Guide for the families of deployed Regular Army personnel. The guide includes:
Preparing for deployment: Sorting out the finances - Wills and insurance - Legal matters - Access to military establishments - Army pay, allowances and compensation - Service Family Accommodation - Single Service parents and couples where both parents are serving personnel - Prepare the children - ‘Trusted friends’ schemes - Relationships - The car - Key documents/dates to remember
During Deployment: Keeping in touch - E-Blueys - ArmyNET - Mobiles phones - Rest and Recuperation (R&R) - Defence Welfare Package - Looking after the family - Security - Going away - Children/Pregnancy - Debt - Separation survival guide - Who you can turn to for help
Emergencies: Casualty procedures - Compassionate leave & travel - Frequently asked questions - Overseas compassionate leave/travel card
Homecoming: Things to consider - Children and reunion - Tips for parents of returning Service personnel - Tips on dealing with stress and post traumatic stress disorder
Other: Explaining the Army, abbreviations and terminology - Pre-Deployment Check List
Deployment Guide for the families of mobilised members of the Territorial Army and the Regular Reserve
Make sure you have your copy of the latest Guide for the families of mobilised members of the Territorial Army and the Regular Reserve. The guide includes:
Preparing for Deployment: Sorting out the finances - Wills and insurance - Legal matters –Access to Military Establishments - Army pay, allowances and pensions - Prepare the children - Relationships - The car - Key documents - Dates to remember - Pre-deployment checklist.
During Deployment: Keeping in touch - E-blueys – ArmyNet – Mobile Phones – Deployment Welfare Package – Security – Pregnancy – Debt – Going away – Separation Survival Guide – Rest & Recuperation –Who can you turn to for help? – Emergencies
Homecoming: Things to consider – Children and Reunion – Tips on dealing with stress and post traumatic stress disorder – Returning to civilian employment – Compensation
For more information visit the Army Reserve page
Army Welfare Information Service - confidential advice on any welfare problem from the Army’s Welfare Service 01980 615975
HIVE - help, information and signposting to professional support agencies. Online at www.army.mod.uk.
Confidential Support Line – personal support from a confidential telephone support worker
0800 7314880 (UK) / +44 (0) 1890 630854
Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre - Emergency casualty and compassionate support (in the case of death, injury or illness of the soldier or their immediate family) +44 (0)1452 519951
Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre (RTMC) Helpline - freephone facility giving 24hr contact details for the RTMC Unit Welfare Officer if required 0800 0285533
Personnel deployed on 2 to 6 month tours can make 30 minutes of Government funded phone calls to any location in the world each week using their WelComE account card. Visit www.mywelcome.co.uk/deployed-personnel for all the information.
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