Trust and the “Three R’s”. Deployment and your Mental Health, Are you ready?

  • Published
  • By Capt David Obergfell
  • 452 AMW/AMDS

Are you ready? Really ready to deploy? What about the return home?

It helps to think about how we want to come home as we prepare to depart.

Deployment is possibly one of the most exciting, and stressful times an Airman and their Family experiences. You have been tasked to go, you have all of your readiness tasks checked off, and now, the rest of your life gets ready to change! How to be mentally, emotionally and socially prepared for a full scope healthy deployment, while complex, also achievable.

So, let’s keep this simple. Some concepts useful to think about for a full scope of deployment health, the “Three R’s”, Readiness, Resiliency and Return.

Readiness: We have seen it and do it, “maintain readiness” at all times, stay green and good to go. No problem, when following the checklist.  (You know, the one you just read above!)

We also need to consider what it means to be mentally and emotionally ready for deployment.  If there is one take away here, it is build and maintain safety and trust in your relationships. When we trust, both giving and receiving trust, that is when we have support. With trust and support in place, any problem can be handled and resolved.

Start with intentional communication. Intentional communication with family and friends you care about. Be open and honest about all of your concerns, excitement and stress associated with deployment. We often use a detached approach to deployment and hold back our emotional state in order to protect our loved ones. Being mentally and emotionally ready means establishing and maintaining a strong foundation of trust, knowing that despite complications, trust will endure. Interestingly enough, trust is most often built and maintained when we ask for help and share our emotions. Remember to feel is human, and we need each other. Share your emotions with your family and look for opportunities to ask for and offer help. Discuss your relationships and make a commitment to continue communication.

Resiliency when deployed, some bigger concepts: There are 4 basics elements of comprehensive resiliency, and all need to be invested in is to create, dare we say it, a synergistic, resiliency profile! The 4 elements are: Social, Spiritual, Physical and Emotional. A key here is to manage expectations, maintain perspective, and control only what we truly can, especially when you are deployed. Let’s return to trust, resiliency is always toward building trust in yourself and in others. Trust those whom you have planned to take care of things back home. Trust your Wingmen and Commander. Have faith in your own flexibility and adaptability. Let go of what is out of your control. When we try to control what we can’t, our resiliency breaks down. Nurture the areas in our environment that create opportunity to strengthen our resiliency.

               Social: spend time connecting with those back home, balance this with the comradery of your                unit. Remember, the deployment will end, but connections with others will endure.

               Spiritual: seek out meaning, beauty and shared goals in daily activities. It can be easy to lose                sight of a bigger picture and greater meaning in the work we do when we focus in on the stress     and details of the day. Determine to set time aside to reflect on the meaning of your work, your       contributions to the mission and the power and humility of service.

               Physical: yes, move and exercise, a lot! Play and use physical activity to build relationships                through shared time. There is a whole lot of brain-wellness science behind the positive impact                physical activity has on mood and perspective. Trust the science, appreciate and use your body,     it is not separate from your brain, and you are a whole person!

               Emotional: be honest and talk about your emotions, ask for feedback and support. Remember,         build trust by asking for help, we all have emotions and experiences, we don’t need to manage               alone!

Return: Trust in time and trust each other. When we return from a deployment there will, always, be a transition. Be okay with this, anticipate things will be different. Even if we don’t deploy our lives will always change, so keep this in perspective, change is a daily process, and it may be alright to honor this. Lean on the strength of relationships you maintained while deployed. Same as when deployed, manage expectations. While there is often an urge to expect “things to be just the way they were before I left”, in reality, the world has turned, you and your loved ones have had experiences that have influenced your lives. Be patient with each other, and don’t avoid asking and learning about each other’s experience. If there is something you feel like you don’t want to share, it can be useful to explore and discuss the reasons why with your supports, this offers communication and clarification and maintains connection. Don’t assume “they won’t understand”, better to express concerns and ask if they are interested in listening about your experience. Remember, sharing emotions, even vulnerabilities, and asking for help, builds trust and that, is where we find support.

Trust is a dynamic process. Build your mental Readiness, practice Resiliency and prepare for a connected Return.

452 AMW Resources:

Director of Psychological Health: (951) 655-5097

Chaplain: (951) 655-4105

Airman and Family readiness Center: (951) 655-5350

(Linked) Related Article on Deployment Mental Health:

Deployments can be 'significant stressor' for families but help is available (

(Linked) Resiliency Resources:

Military One Source: Deployment Resources for Families

The Wingman Tool Kit