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Publication #FAR0013

Saying Goodbye: Military Deployments1

Alexandra Ulrich and Suzanna Smith2

Figure 1. 
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"I wiped the tears from my eyes and wrapped my arms around my dad's neck. He pulled my mom in and held us close to him. One last hug before he had to go. I watched him walk away, the last time I would see him for six months. My hero was leaving, and all I felt was anger and sadness."

Those last few hugs, the last few kisses, the last few goodbyes are what many military families across the United States have experienced when seeing a loved one leave for deployment. An estimated 1.4 million servicemen and women serve as active duty members in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force. Deployments are nothing new in the military community. However, during these times of separation, family members of those serving, especially the children, undergo many hardships. Studies show children's reactions to separation can even lead to depression.

Families can do a number of things before and during deployment to make the time apart a little easier. Before a loved one is shipped out, spend as much time as possible together as a family. Communicate with children about thoughts and feelings and be sure they understand why Mom or Dad has to leave. Once the family member is deployed, set aside time that will be used to write letters, put together packages, and discuss feelings about the separation. And don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources and people available and willing to help!

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This document is FAR0013, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Broadcast as program 73 in January 2005. Reviewed March 2012. Published on EDIS November 2012. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Alexandra Ulrich, student, and Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.