PMFRC Deployment Services continue to support families during pandemic

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday February 25, 2021

 


Whether your loved one is getting ready to deploy, has already deployed or has recently returned, the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre (PMFRC) is there to support you.

“For the PMFRC, a deployment is anytime your soldier is not sleeping in their bed,” said  Annie Beaudoin, PMFRC deployment coordinator. “For 24 hours, a month, six months, it doesn’t matter. We are here to support you.”

All work-related separations are considered a deployment and a soldier’s family is whatever they wish to define it as. It could be an unmarried partner, a parent, a close friend, as well as the obvious spouse and children.

“It’s anybody that they want us to support when they are gone,” said Beaudoin, adding they aren’t attached to the Department of National Defence (DND) definition of family.

Even those who are out of the area will get support, if not from the PMFRC then from another Military Family Resource Centre closer to them geographically.

Beaudoin highlighted that every deployed family should have a deployment binder, one of the best resources a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member can have on hand to ease their loved ones’ mind.

It contains all of the information needed to survive a work-related separation, bringing together all personal emergency phone numbers and important information so a loved one has what they need if something goes wrong.

But for those who need more support, the PMFRC also offers its deployment programs online. The programs vary to suit the unique needs of as many people as possible. 

One of their upcoming activities will teach people how to write a diary to better track their emotions and thoughts during the deployment. Staff will also offer a basic photography course to teach participants how to use their phones to take great pictures and edit them to keep memories fresh for when their loved ones return. Pickup kits are available for those wanting to craft a deployment wall.

Family members are also invited to attend the PMFRC’s expert-led deployment readiness, information workshops and emergency preparedness classes that cover things like the importance of Operations Security (OPSEC), Disaster Preparedness and Parenting through Deployment.

And as always, there is a friendly helping hand reaching out from PMFRC staff and volunteers who are ready and willing to do what they can to make the time apart easier on the family.

Knowing that times are difficult for people balancing working from home and taking care of children, most of the classes, activities and programs are pre-recorded.

“Because we understand with kids that your schedule might not be as easy as to jump on in the middle of the day,” said  Francesca Alexanian, PMFRC Community Engagement Coordinator.

The PMFRC acknowledges it is harder to deal with deployments when kids are involved. And though they can create deployment dolls in the likeness of their loved one for children to find comfort in, it is no substitute for the real thing.

It is even more difficult for kids as they cannot find comfort in their friends as they usually do. Programs hosted in local schools to help children struggling with their parent being away for so long are currently not available due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Parents have been dealing with many things regarding school, and just when they get into somewhat of a routine, the rules change again, said Darby Briggs, PMFRC Deployment Support Programmer.

“We know this will continue to be a stressful year for families and adding a deployment or work-related separation doesn’t make it easier, especially for kids,” she said.

With this in mind, the Children’s Deployment Support Program (CDSP) is being offered 100 per cent virtually. Families receive pre-recorded videos they can watch with their kids at leisure and they are asked to check in once a month. The CDSP learning box, filled with fun supplies, will be available to augment the activities when it is deemed safe.

“We want families to know that we are still here and to reach out to us,” said Briggs.

Deployments are tricky things, but the PMFRC is always there to make it an easier process, whether with a particular program or activity or with light-hearted conversation. They are there to support all families and staff are urging people to reach out.

For more information on the PMFRC’s Deployment Services, please visit www.CAFc onnection.ca/Petawawa.