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NEWS | Oct. 8, 2013

Diamond Tip: Deployments, are you prepared?

By Master Sgt. James F. Kasch 14th Airlift Squadron First Sergeant

As I prepare for my upcoming deployment I ponder what an Airman deploying for the first time might think. Since this is not my first deployment I have a good idea of what to expect and how to prepare. However, I think back to SrA Kasch and how nervous I was before departing on that first adventure. I would like to cover a few key topics that should hopefully put a few at ease and also help them prepare to support the mission downrange.

Once you receive the notice to deploy, a checklist will accompany you until the day you depart. Read the checklist thoroughly. Then read it again. If you know your estimated departure date, set up a timeline to complete the required tasks in a timely manner. Medical out processing can begin as far out as 120 days from departure. Note whether or not your deployment requires any additional Computer Based Training. You would be surprised how many there may be. I had to accomplish 23 CBT's for my most recent deployment. Some training certifications are valid for 12 months while others are 24. Do you need to requalify on weapons training? My previous career field only required rifle qualification; this deployment requires I qualify on the M-9. Do you need chemical warfare training, Self-Aid Buddy Care, CPR, etc? All or most of these questions can be answered by your squadron deployment manager. Since some of these require advanced planning and scheduling, get on top of these sooner rather than later.

Do you have a will or Power of Attorney ? Each of us should complete a will prior to any deployment. If you deploy more often, ensure it is up to date. Does your spouse or family need a POA to take care of things for you while you are away? You would be surprised what might happen back here at home station while we are downrange accomplishing the mission. As a First Sergeant I have first-hand knowledge of some issues that arise. Make sure your family has your First Sergeant's contact information. We are here to help take care of the issues. The POA is a great tool for your family and helps alleviate the need to contact you for numerous issues.

Another thing to prepare for your deployment, be ready to depart up to 10 days before your scheduled arrival date. Don't make any financial plans within that last two weeks that you can't change at a moment's notice. You will not get reimbursed for personal travel or other incidentals due to your deployment departure. I received my travel plans and my departure date five days earlier than expected. Needless to say, my family who had scheduled to visit moved their plans to accommodate the unexpected change.

Most of the information above can apply to all, but I don't want to leave out the single Airman. As a dorm resident, ensure your living quarters are squared away and clean. Leaving one morsel of food out could turn your room into the insect dream house. Perform a thorough clean-up. Leave the room ready for a dorm inspection. Check with your dorm manager for specific items of high interest. Prepare your car for a long time without you. Unless you give the keys to someone else you might want to invest in a car cover. Some people think disconnecting your battery is another way to safeguard your vehicle, check with the car's manufacturer for specific guidance regarding that issue. If you live off of the base, make sure your residence is looked after when you are gone. Six months can be longer than you think.

This items covered above are not all inclusive, just a few things to consider. If this is your first deployment, ask questions, seek advice from servicemembers who have deployed before. If this is just another deployment out of many before, look out for that new guy or gal. Show them the way, lead and they will follow. Remember what your first one was like. We will never leave an Airman behind, we will never falter, and we will not fail.