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Combat and Operational Stress Control and the Deployment Cycle

All deployments, even those that do not involve combat, are significant events in service members' lives and can affect not only those who deploy, but also their families. Throughout the deployment cycle (pre-deployment to reintegration), a range of stressors contribute to combat and operational stress. Common stressors occur during combat and non-combat-related deployments and they can be different for everyone. Common stressors experienced by service members across the deployment cycle include the following:

Pre-deployment Phase Deployment Phase Post-deployment/Reintegration Phase

Getting affairs in order

Difficult living conditions

Reintegrating into family

Preparing family for deployment

Witnessing the death of others

Renegotiating routines

Denial and anticipation of loss

Loss of a unit member or friend

Loss of independence

Killing someone



Military families also experience a variety of stressors related to the deployment cycle. These can include stressors that arise from the changing role of a spouse when the service member is deployed or, for a child, the lack of regular communication with a deployed parent.

Deployment infograph thumbnailThis downloadable infographic provides an overview of the deployment stressors experienced by service members, their spouses, and their children. Download PDF



Deployment Cycle Resources

The resources below provide information providers can use to help service members and their families navigate deployment cycle stressors.

  • Preparing for Deployment — This website provides information and tips from Military OneSource to help service members prepare for deployment, such as updating essential legal documents, organizing finances, creating a family care plan and designing a contingency plan.
  • Sesame Street for Military Families — This website offers resources for providers to learn about the steps that military families go through during challenging transitions and handouts to share with their patients.
  • Helping Children Cope during Deployment — This fact sheet from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress provides information to help children cope during a parent's deployment.

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Last Updated: August 21, 2023
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