A group of male Service Members on patrol.
Understanding the  Military Experience
Deployment and Operational Experiences

With the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we often hear about a Service Member being deployed. Broadly, deployment is a movement of the armed forces.

As with many elements of military service, a Service Members' experience of deployment can be varied:

  • Deployments may be for a number of reasons such as humanitarian aid and increased security - not only combat
  • Deployments may last up to 15 months
  • Service Members can be deployed only once, or they can be deployed multiple times
  • Deployments that are war-related can be significantly different depending on the era, such as WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and OEF/OIF/OND (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn).
  • Modern military units cycle through four phases of deployment, each associated with unique stressors: Preparation for deployment, Transition to deployment (leaving), During deployment, and Redeployment (returning)

Since each Veteran's experience with deployment is unique, asking about his or her experiences with openness and respect can lead to deeper understanding of your client and a stronger therapeutic relationship.

  • Would you like more information on deployment and operational experiences?

    Learn more about deployment in our Deployment and Operational Experiences handout.

  • Want to know the correct names of military conflicts, what OEF or OIF means, or which conflicts are considered wars?

    Learn more about both current and past military conflicts in our Dates & Names of Conflicts handout.

  • Want to better understand what it may be like to re-adjust to civilian life after a deployment or after completing military service?

    Read our Common Challenges During Re-adjustment to Civilian Life handout.

  • Looking for resources about returning home from deployment to provide to a Veteran client or a family member of deployed military personnel?

    The National Center for PTSD has created Returning from the War Zone Guides for a number of audiences, including children, family members, and Veterans.


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" Since each Veteran's experience with deployment is unique, asking about his or her experiences with openness and respect can lead to deeper understanding of your client and a stronger therapeutic relationship."