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Deployment and Operational Experience

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.
Two male soldiers do some wood work together.

We often hear about a Servicemember being deployed. Broadly, deployment is a movement of the armed forces.
As with many elements of military service, a Servicemember’s 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
  • Servicemembers can be deployed just once, or multiple times
  • War-related deployments have varied greatly depending on the era (for example: WWII, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan)
  • 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.

Learn More about Military Experience

  • Each phase of deployment comes with unique challenges. Stressors that can take place during deployment while serving in a theater of war include the following:

    Physical & Practical Challenges

    • Safety concerns
    • Hostile environment
    • Life threat
    • Exposure to death and dying
    • Illness, injury
    • Trauma (e.g., combat, accidents)
    • Exposure to toxins
    • Intense desert heat
    • Intense cold
    • Dehydration
    • Sand, sandstorms
    • Not having needed equipment
    • Delayed supplies
    • Sleep deprivation, nightmares
    • Co-ed living quarters
    • Lengthy deployments (12 to 18 months)
    • Being deployed multiple times

    Emotional & Mental Challenges

    • Uncertainty / Ambiguity
    • Ambiguous enemy
    • Authoritative work environment
    • Fear, anger
    • Hatred of the enemy
    • Loss of comrades
    • Survivor’s guilt
    • Boredom
    • Hyper-focus/concentration
    • Fast-paced action
    • Lack of information
    • Values challenged
    • Life does not make sense
    • Lost faith in God or religious belief
    • Concern about job when they return

    Social Challenges

    • Managing peers/leaders
    • Relationship conflicts
    • Family separation
    • Loss of income/financial worries
    • Conflicts between military and family responsibilities
    • Missing family milestones
    • Separated from social supports
    • Little to no privacy/private time
    • Perceived lack of support of war efforts or military from general public

Useful Resources



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