WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has launched a new resource to help troops and their families plan for the "before, during and after" of deploying.
Barbara Thompson, director of DOD's office for family policy, explained "Plan My Deployment" during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
"This is a new, interactive, online tool that supports service members and their families as they prepare for the different stages of deployment," she said.
The site guides users through the "ins and outs" of deployment, Thompson said, from power-of-attorney and legal assistance considerations to financial and emotional issues. Other tips and tools address education and training benefits.
"We modeled this after the very, very popular 'Plan My Move,' which helps with [permanent change of station] moves," she said. "It's the same kind of approach. We look at providing the tools and information, and you tailor it to your individual family's needs."
Plan My Deployment saves users' information so people can exit and return at their convenience, picking up where they left off.
Though other deployment planning guides and resources already exist, Thompson said, DOD leaders wanted to offer assistance to the entire active duty, National Guard and Reserve force.
While the pace of deployment has dropped since U.S. forces left Iraq and will continue to decline as the mission in Afghanistan draws to an end, Thompson said, service members always will face the possibility of deploying.
"Let's face it: military members deploy all the time ... We've learned a lot of lessons during this long-term conflict, and we want to make sure that our service members and their families are prepared for what's in the future," she said.
Plan My Deployment is available at DOD's Military OneSource website, which also offers a range of other services for military families. Thompson said the site is in the public domain, so it is available to extended family members who don't have access to military facilities.