The only way I’ve made it through my husband’s seven overseas deployments was with a little help from my friends. OK, sometimes it was a lot of help. And sometimes the friends were organizations and services that are available all over the country. As we went through one deployment after another, I became better at seeking out the deployment resources that would best meet my family’s needs. I firmly believe that no one should go through deployment alone. With all of these non-profits and national organizations trying to support military families, shouldn’t we at least learn what they can offer? This giant list of deployment resources includes ones I have heard about and many that I have personally used. If I’m missing your organization or your favorite deployment resources, please let me know in the comments!
Deployment Resources when you don’t live near a base
ASYMCA (Armed Services YMCA) offers programs and activities for military families, such as free membership at YMCA locations, deployment showers for pregnant spouses, and free childcare at respite locations.
USO (United Services Organization) hosts a variety of military-friendly events at locations around the country. Find the nearest location to you, or see if you can participate in their distance programs, such as phone cards for troops, photo books, United Through Reading, or the Sesame Street website (discussed in detail below).
Our Military Kids provides discount vouchers on sports and arts activities for National Guard Families during deployment.
Yellow Ribbon sessions are pre-deployment and mid-deployment for National Guard families. These are useful and helpful sessions to connect you with resources and answer deployment questions. Contact your spouse’s unit for individual details.
Community Activities such as sports teams, running groups, book clubs, and hiking events can help you feel supported and busy during deployment. Use sites like Meetup.com to find local people who share your interests.
Faith Communities often offer supportive activities like family events, book clubs, prayer groups, Bible Studies, and holiday meals. Find a location near you that will give you support during deployment.
Online Groups can provide great support and encouragement, so you don’t feel like you’re going through deployment alone. Even if you live far from other military families, you can connect through shared deployment experiences. My Deployment support FB group is private and exclusive to military spouses and significant others going through deployment. You can also enroll in the Deployment Masterclass to get support through common deployment challenges.
Families living far from base can also use several of the discounts and freebies discussed near the end of this post. Scroll down for more details!
Deployment Resources that are Discounts and Freebies
Build a Sign gives free Homecoming banners to anyone celebrating a military Homecoming. You can upload your own photos and customize the message. You just pay shipping!
Project Evergreen assists military families with Lawn Care and Snow Removal during deployments.
Blue Star Family Museums offer free admission to military families at hundreds of museums across the country. Discounts are specifically from Memorial Day until Labor Day (summer time), but many locations extend theirs throughout the year, so be sure to ask.
VetTix or GovX tickets offer great military discounts for concerts and sports events. Once the service member verifies their duty status, you can return to the website anytime to purchase discounted tickets.
Operation Teammate gives kids backstage access and unique experiences with local and national sports teams. This can be a deployment highlight for a kid who enjoys watching or playing sports.
National Parks pass is free to active duty service members, and grants the family free admission to most National Parks. Use your deployment time to make a bucket list and visit beautiful outdoor locations.
Trees for Troops provides free Christmas trees to military families at bases across the country, and to deployed troops around the world. Check with your base family center to see if your base participates. We have benefited from Trees for Troops before, and it made the deployment holidays a little bit easier when I had to set up everything alone.
Operation That’s My Ride is a USO program that assembles and donates thousands of free bikes to military kids.
Rotary Clubs are present on many military bases. Some provide support to service member families with free appliances and furniture. Other hold fundraisers to assist new mothers and military children.
Operation We Are Here has a websites with hundreds of resources and links for military families. Check out their deployment resources here.
Project EverGreen’s GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops programs provide complimentary basic lawn care, landscape and snow removal services for deployed service members E-6 and below. Services vary by volunteer and can include lawn mowing, trimming shrubs/bushes/hedges, aeration, fertilizing/weed control, perimeter pest control, mosquito control, fire ant control, spring clean-up, fall/leaf clean-up and snow removal. Services are provided for the entire length of the deployment.
Deployment Resources for Kids
I have written a lot about getting through deployment with kids of different ages, because it can be a challenging time for the children AND the solo parent. Each time you think you have things figured out, the kids get older and go through new challenging stages. But don’t worry, there are so many companies and program that want to support military kids through deployment! Some of these resources are free. Others you will need to purchase for your child. (The list contains some affiliate links, which means if you purchase I get a small payment, at no extra cost to you).
Daddy dolls are customized dolls printed with their deployed parent’s picture. These are especially useful for babies and toddlers during deployment. Parents should plan to purchase the doll at least a month before deployment.
Battalion buddies are bears that can be sent to a deploying unit and distributed to military kids free of charge. These are provided by Operation Gratitude, but must be ordered by a battalion representative or family readiness official.
BearRegards was founded by an Air Force veteran. The company sells stuffed animals and dolls with recordable voice chips inside, so a military child can always here their deployed parent’s voice.
Cuddletunes Bears also have a recordable voice chip, but this one is synced to an app, so the service member can change the message and send new ones throughout the deployment.
Troop on the Stoop was founded by a veteran who developed a book and doll set that helps military kids through deployments. The troop is ready to go to battle to comfort kids while their parent is away.
Sgt. Sleeptight is a cuddly bear wearing a camouflage uniform, who helps kids sleep well when their parent is away. It comes with a door tag proclaiming that the room is protected by Sgt. Sleeptight. I love that purchases help children whose parents were killed in service, through a partnership with TAPS.
Sweet Dreams Pillow Project creates customized picture pillows for military kids, so they can always see their service member at bedtime. This is great for kids of any age.
United Through Reading, sponsored by the USO, allows deployed parents to read bedtime stories to their children. They record themselves reading a book, then United through Reading mails the video and book to the child, for free. This means even without internet connection, the service member can be seen and heard anytime.
A Story Before Bed is a website that allows parents to record a book for their child. Each year, they give away thousands of recordings for free to military families.
Caribu reading app lets deployed parents or distant family members read a book to a child in real time. Through the app, kids can see the reader’s face via video, while reading the book pages on the screen. Learn about Caribu’s military discount here.
Recordable Books from Hallmark or any bookstore can be a great way for the service member to be “present” and read to their child during deployment. It’s important to find ways to connect children to deployed parents, even if it’s a baby who has never met them!
Deployment-themed books are perfect to help military kids prepare for deployment and handle new emotions. You can customize this one, called Daddy/Mommy is in the military. You can find more on Amazon, or from Elva Resa Publishing Company.
Sesame Street Workshop partnered with Military One Source to create videos, coloring pages, and resources for military kids going through deployment. The character videos make it easier for military kids to share what they are going through during deployments or PCS moves.
Operation Hero, sponsored by ASYMCA offers free after-school tutoring to military kids with a deployed parent. Not only does this help kids prioritize school work, but it lets them discuss with other military kids and discuss deployment emotions too.
Operation Homefront hosts giveaways for military kids, including free backpacks and school supplies. They also host meals for military families on holidays.
Countdown charts can help kids visualize how much time is left in a deployment, and celebrate milestones along the way. There is a customizable wall chart for $4 in my page’s Store.
Dog Tags for Kids allows service members to send a customized gift to their children back home–for free!
Little Patriots Embraced care package sends a patriotic bear, quilt, relaxing music CD, and a journal as a gift to military kids going through deployment.
Littlest Hero Care Packages include a toy and handwritten note, thanking military kids for the sacrifices they make during deployment.
Homecoming Box is an ongoing project that allows kids to process deployment emotions by saving memories, photos, and treasures throughout the deployment. They can share these with their deployed parent after Homecoming.
Kids Bowl Free and Kids Skate Free are programs military kids can use year-round to get one free weekly session of bowling or ice skating at participating locations. The coupons are sent by email and can be used at most military bases.
Deployment Resources for Pregnancy
I have had the unfortunate experience of being pregnant and giving birth during deployment. Being pregnant during deployment and on your own is intimidating, but you are not truly alone! So many military families and organizations want to support you!
Operation Special Delivery is a program that connects doulas with military spouses who will deliver babies during deployment. A doula is a medically-trained professional who is able to provide support, assistance, and medical advice during birth. They are commonly used during natural birth, but can be helpful for any type of delivery, especially if your spouse is deployed. They offer reduced rates for military families. You can read about my birth experience with a doula during deployment here.
Star-Spangled Babies program, from Operation Homefront, hosts Star-Spangled Showers at locations near military bases. They invite spouses of deployed or wounded service members to receive special gifts to help with their new babies.
USO Baby Showers are available at locations across the country, and even overseas. They have great gifts for new moms, and focus on connecting military families.
The Carrying On Project is a non-profit that offers baby carriers and wraps to needy families across the country. You can apply for yourself or nominate a friend.
Operation Shower hosts group baby showers during deployment for any spouse who is due to have a baby, or gave birth in the past six months. Contact your Family Readiness group and ask if they will help coordinate a group shower for the unit.
Budget for Baby classes are offered by the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society on some military bases. They help young families be financially prepared for a new baby. Participants receive a Junior Sea Bag with handmade gift items.
Baby Bootcamp is a free class offered at most military hospitals. It’s designed to be taken during the pregnancy, so new parents can learn baby basics like feeding, soothing, and changing diapers.
New Parent Support is available on most bases from either the hospital or the Family Center Programs. They offer home visits with nurses, support for breastfeeding, and playgroups for various ages of babies and toddlers.
Free Breast Pump is now covered by Tricare as a prescription. Your OB-Gyn can write the prescription, which you can have filled at numerous pharmacies or online companies like the Breastfeeding Shop and One Natural Way. A breast pump is essential for anyone who nurses their baby, even if you don’t know how long you will nurse or how often you will need to be away from the baby. It’s better to be prepared and have it.
Postpartum Support International’s military program offers help to anyone struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other mood disorder after giving birth. Having a baby during deployment can be extremely challenging. It’s important to get the support and resources you need.
Deployment Resources when you are stressed and overwhelmed
Military One Source: 800-342-9647 They offer free professional counseling to military and family members. You can use 12 sessions per issue, so it is possible to go 12 times during deployment, then 12 additional times for marriage counseling (or any other topic) afterwards. Choose from a list of counselors and have options like phone calls and video sessions that you can do from home.
American Red Cross: 877-272-7337 Use them to send emergency messages to a deployed service member, typically when a spouse gives birth or if there is a death in the extended family. The Red Cross can contact service members overseas, even when they do not have phone or internet service.
Suicide Hotline/ Veterans Crisis Support Line: 1-800-273-8255 This hotline is available 24/7 to any service member or spouse who is feeling overwhelmed. Call them anytime for life-saving encouragement and support.
Be There Peer Support: 844-357-PEER This program offers free counseling from fellow service members and military spouses. You can use their website to set up a session when you want to talk to someone who understands the unique challenges of military life.
Give an Hour has mental health professionals who volunteer to give free counseling sessions to military families. The hour-long sessions are confidential and can be helpful during deployment.
FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a nationwide program available at many military bases through the Family Center. The program meets individually with families over a 1-2 month period. It helps parents and children talk about stress and learn to manage emotions like anger and fear. We found this to be very helpful when my kids were acting out during their Dad’s deployment.
MFLC (Military Family Life Counselor) is attached to many military units and some military schools. This is a professional social worker or psychologist who can assist military families during deployment and help them connect with necessary resources. Their assistance is free and confidential, and they are able to meet either on or off base.
FRG/FRO/ Ombudsman should be available on all military bases. The Family Readiness coordinator is responsible for communicating with families or a deployed unit. They offer information and support, while also coordinating events and sharing opportunities. Be sure your service member puts you on the family readiness contact list. If you don’t receive their emails, try calling the office.
Military Chaplains are trained religious personnel who can offer more than religious services. They are also trained in counseling, crisis response, and handling emergency situations. No matter your religious background, your base chaplain can offer support or additional resources.
Deployment Resources for Care Packages
Countdowns and Cupcakes designs care package decorations for holidays, and can personalize them with custom dates or names. You can use my discount code SEASONED at checkout for $5 off your first order!
Paper Paisley sells care package sticker kits that make it easy to send a festive package for any occasion.
Troopster offers care packages for deployed troops. You can purchase a pre-made package to send your service member, or donate a package for troops who aren’t receiving much mail.
Brave Crate is a monthly subscription box specific to those going through deployment. Each month has a new theme with practical deployment tools, fun gifts, and sweet treats. Use my code SEASONED for a discount on your first box!
MilsoBox is a care package box for military spouses and significant others, filled with products from milspouse and veteran-owned companies. There are different themes to choose, so it makes a perfect deployment gift for almost anyone.
The Six Box is a care package designed for military spouses and significant others, to show that they’ve “got your six.” The monthly subscription includes a new theme each month, with a beauty product, snack, and gift.
Spouse Box from Hello Rosie is designed to help military spouses “Treat Yo’Self” during deployment. Pampering products like chocolate, tea, bath bombs, mugs, and tea shirts will help make deployment a little bit sweeter.
There are numerous organizations that donate goods or products for deployed service members. Check out the extensive care package list here from Operation We Are Here.
For more Deployment Resources and support, enroll in my Deployment Masterclass! It has the encouragement you need to handle whatever deployment will throw your way.