Workshops prepare Marines, sailors, families for deployment

30 Dec 2013 | Pfc. Grace Waladkewics

Whether for the first time or after several deployments, leaving home and family always comes with heightened levels of stress and responsibility for the Marine leaving and the family left at home.

Deployments can be exciting and scary all at the same time. Each rotation brings challenges and hardships for service members and their family, according to Amy Zier, the readiness and deployment support trainer with Marine Corps Family Team Building.

“Every deployment is different,” said Zier. “There may be unique challenges or different situations that you may not have faced before or could not have foreseen.”

MCFTB and Cherry Point’s Marine Corps Community Services work together to ensure that Marines, Sailors and their families prepare for all aspects of the Marine Corps and the challenges of the Marine Corps life, including deployments, said Zier.

Zier said two common challenges facing families before deployment are communication and expectations.

“Challenges include differing expectations about the frequency or availability of communication, understanding the emotional cycle of deployment, and spouses, significant others and family members fear of isolation while their Marine is away,” said Zier. “There is also a fear of not being able to handle all of the household and family responsibility on their own.”

MCFTB offers several Life Skills classes to help Marines and Sailors and their families prepare for deployment. The classes help families improve their communication skills, and helps spouses maintain a connection with their deployed service member and refine skills that will help ease their anxiety about managing a household alone.

MCFTB offers more than ten classes for families. “Bridging the Gap: Communication for Deployments” teaches couples ways to communicate and maintain intimacy while apart. “Five Love Languages” teaches couples how to express their feelings. The auto skills class provides spouses with basic auto care and maintenance tips to help lessen their anxiety and increase their understanding of auto care, said Zier.

The “Ready for Anything” workshop helps Marines and spouses prepare for deployment. The workshop covers the logistical, financial and emotional aspects of deployment before the deployment begins.

“This class really helped me learn to deal with finances, keeping the house in order and learning to be independent,” said Nina M. Peterson, Marine wife of Sgt. Mark A. Peterson II, an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274.

Peterson said loneliness and a lack of communication can strain a relationship during separation, but the class taught ways to remain connected and be as prepared as possible for the challenge of deployments.

“Marines and their families have told us here at MCFTB that our classes have made a huge difference in their family readiness, their understanding of the Marine Corps lifestyle, and family communication dynamics,” said Zier. “So I encourage Marines to take advantage of these wonderful benefits and services for themselves and their family.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point