Preparing for a deployment can be a stressful time for both service members and their families. Occasionally, the military cancels the deployment at the last minute, keeping service members at home. If your deployment has been canceled, you and your family are probably excited and relieved. You may also be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of "undoing" all of the deployment preparations you have made over the last few months. Although it is a lot to rearrange, taking things on one at a time and reaching out for support can make the process more manageable. Remember that your installation, and National Guard and reserve military and family support programs are there also to help you through this process. Many military and family support programs have additional information and resources based upon a large scale deployment being canceled that may assist you. For contact information, you can visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
Administrative and legal affairs
While preparing for your deployment, you most likely updated important legal and administrative documents, designating certain individuals to address your affairs. Now that the deployment is canceled, you should go back over your documents to see what needs to be changed.
- Terminate power of attorney. A power of attorney is a written document that gives one person the authority to act on another's behalf for any legal or economic issues for a specified period of time. If you do not revoke any powers of attorney you signed while preparing for the deployment, the individual designated in the document will still retain the authority to act on your behalf regardless of the deployment cancellation. You can reach out to your installation legal assistance office for help revoking powers of attorney.
- Update beneficiary(ies) and coverage amounts for government and civilian life insurance policies. During preparation for the deployment, you may have changed coverage amounts and updated your beneficiaries for your government-administered life insurance (Servicemembers Group Life Insurance) and/or any civilian life insurance policies you have. Now that you are remaining at home, you may wish to review that information to be sure you are still comfortable with any changes you made.
- Update your Family Care Plan. A family care plan outlines the logistical, financial, medical, educational and legal documentation necessary to ensure that dependent family members are cared for during your absence due to deployment or training. Now that you will not be deployed, you may wish to revisit your Family Care Plan to see if your new reality necessitates any other changes. You may want to keep a copy of what you planned because chances are the deployment will eventually happen.
- Update your living will. A living will, or advance medical directive, is a written document that allows a person to describe what medical treatments he or she does or does not want in case of a serious injury or terminal illness. If you wish to change your designations in your living will, you can also manage the process through the installation legal assistance office.
- Update your last will and testament. A last will and testament, or will, is a declaration that states how a person wishes his or her property to be disposed of after his or her death. Although the cancellation of your deployment may not impact the content of your will, you might want to review it with an attorney from the legal assistance office to be sure there are no sections that need revisions based on the change of your deployment status.
- Revisit legal protections under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act. The SCRA is intended to help protect the legal rights of members called to active duty. The SCRA frequently makes certain rights available conditional upon whether your ability to meet certain obligations is "materially affected" by military service. Whether you are "materially affected" can mean different things in different situations. If you were expecting to obtain a stay or postponement of court or administrative proceedings for example, you may no longer be eligible to do so under the protections afforded by the SCRA. Contact your installation's legal assistance office for more information on the impact of the cancellation on your rights under the SCRA.
In preparation for deployment, you may have adjusted your family budget or signed up for emergency financial assistance. Now that your deployment has been canceled, you are encouraged to revisit some of your financial preparations to ensure you and your family stay on track.
- Update your family budget. When deploying, service members become eligible to receive additional incentive and special pays and can become eligible to receive their income tax-free. With the cancellation of the deployment, you can no longer count on that bigger paycheck. If you and your family created a new budget based on the deployment income, you probably need to revisit it to ensure that you are not living beyond your means. If you need assistance, you can access financial counseling services through your installation personal financial management program or through Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.
- Update allotments. Allotments are a specified portion of pay and allowances that a service member authorizes to be made payable to a qualified person or institution. If you wish to update or discontinue an allotment(s), you can do so by completing Department of Defense Form 2558 or using your MyPay account.
- Terminate pre-authorization for emergency financial assistance. Each of the branches of service offers emergency financial assistance through their respective relief organizations for service members and their families who demonstrate a financial need. If you pre-authorized your family to receive financial assistance, you may wish to coordinate with the relief organization to revoke the authorizations.
- Revisit financial protections under the SCRA. As with the legal protections, service members whose deployments have been canceled will not be afforded financial protections under the SCRA. For example, if you were expecting to limit the interest rate for all financial obligations that you entered into before beginning active duty, you will no longer be able to do so under the SCRA. If you need assistance, you can access financial counseling services through your installation personal financial management program or through Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.
National Guard and reserve service members who have notified their employer of an upcoming deployment should provide notice that the deployment has been canceled. National Guard and reserve service members are still covered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act for their time spent on active duty preparing for the deployment. While the protections afforded by the act do not change, the deadlines for reporting back to work or applying for reemployment vary depending on the amount of time you were away on military duties. You can receive further information on the protections and provisions of USERRA through your local legal assistance office.
Additional considerations for families planning to move during the deployment
If your family was planning to move during the deployment, you most likely have some significant housing concerns. Here are some things that you will need to take care of.
- Contact government housing office or landlord. If you lived in government housing and had already notified the housing office that your family would be vacating during the deployment, you should contact your installation housing office to inform them that you and your family would like to remain in government housing if at all possible. If your family was renting an apartment/home and provided notice that your family would vacate during the deployment, you should contact your landlord to ask about remaining in the unit.
- Contact schools/medical providers. If you transferred school and medical records to new locations in preparation for a move, you should contact the new schools/medical providers and ask to transfer the records back to your original location.
- Update change of address with the post office. If you submitted a change of address form with the post office in preparation for a move, you can contact the post office to submit a new change of address back to your original address.
Where to get help
While you are managing everything in the wake of your deployment cancellation, know that there are resources available to help you. Reach out to your installation military and family support programs for information and resources related to relocation assistance, non-medical individual and family counseling, personal and family life education, personal financial readiness, information and referral services, spouse education and career opportunities, deployment assistance and exceptional family member services. Legal assistance offices can help you address your legal and administrative affairs. Military OneSource can also help you manage all of the details of your deployment cancellation. Consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone at 800-342-9647, online or via email.