Coping with military life

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The Australian Defence Force has special requirements that are accepted by ADF members as conditions of service, but families are also directly affected by the challenges of military lifestyle and increased deployment commitments.

Defence knows these military commitments sometimes impact as much on the family as they do on the serving member.

Some of these expectations include:

•    Conforming to a regulated lifestyle
•    Being physically and medically fit
•    Adhering to the military structure
•    Being trained and qualified for the job
•    Being ready to serve anywhere, anytime
•    Abiding by military law and regulations

Separation and relocation are key features of a military lifestyle. Defence knows that members perform at their best when they are confident that life at home will run smoothly while they are away. The best way to achieve this is by planning ahead about family requirements during separations and relocations, and having access to appropriate support services.

Family readiness is just as important for single members. Informing and involving parents, siblings, friends and other people who are important to you when preparing for relocations, separations and the unique demands of military service, are critical to sustaining these relationships.

Without the emotional and practical support of their families, ADF members simply could not do the job they are required to do. An ADF member has to be confident that their family is healthy and happy before they can wholeheartedly commit to doing their job well.  A series of group programs that help Defence families manage stressful situations such as deployment, parental absence from home, and moving house have been developed.

FamilySMART is a series of group programs designed to help the partners of ADF members identify and build on their strengths, learn techniques to cope with the stressors and challenges of the military lifestyle, and become more resilient, self-reliant and proactive.

The programs target challenging aspects of Defence life such as deployment, relocations, partner absence from home, or reuniting with a partner who is returning after a long time away.

TeenSMART workshops are for Defence teenagers to help them manage issues arising from deployment and relocation.

During the workshops, Defence teenagers can meet and share their stories about being part of a military family. They can also learn some ideas and tactics to help them stay connected to their parents while they are away on deployment, and meet new friends when they move to a new posting location.

The workshop will also cover other things, like managing change and coping when feeling stressed out. There will be some tips and hints for handling emotions, and some great relaxation techniques, too.

KidSMART comprises a set of four-week programs for primary aged kids to help them manage issues arising from posting, relocation and deployment. The KidSMART mascots, Tyler Turtle and Sam Super, will help kids learn how to manage change, stay connected with friends and meet new people.

The workshops will also cover other things, like helping children to cope when feeling stressed or anxious, particularly during times of parental absence and deployment. Kids can learn some techniques for handing emotions and relaxation, too.

Sessions are once a week for 1 to 1.5 hours per session and all children receive a story book to take home. Contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 for more information or to sign up for a program.

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