Staying Connected while on "TDY" (Temporary Duty Assignment)
150,000 military fathers are currently deployed, with deployments ranging from 30 days to 15 months. You probably don’t have to be away from your family for months at a time, but you might travel for your civilian job every now and then, maybe even for a few weeks at a time. The military calls those short trips TDY, or Temporary Duty Assignment. Those separations can be hard for your children, and they need you to help them understand why you are leaving and to reassure them that you’re coming back.
Every year, NFI recognizes a military father for his outstanding service to country and family, including his efforts to father from a distance during military separation. You can learn some great tips from our current finalists and awardees from past years that you can apply with your family when you have to leave home for "TDY."
- 2011 Finalist Army Captain Scott Kulla wrote letters to his wife and children every day while he was away and talked to his family over Skype, helping with homework and parenting decisions by video chat.
- 2011 Finalist Air Force Major Marc Mathes took vacation days before he left to spend time with his children and wife and give them the personal one-on-one time. He explains in “kid terms” why he is going, what he will be doing, and ensures they know that his love only grows stronger for them while he’s absent.
- 2011 Finalist Navy LS1 Christopher Cady made sure his son (who has Cytomegalovirus, leaving him blind and deaf) could hear his voice and smell his shirt every night while he was away.
- 2010 Awardee Air Force Master Sergeant Rick Marston made videotapes of himself reading bedtime stories so his sons can maintain one of their favorite “daddy-time” activities while he is deployed, and has early celebrations for holidays and birthdays he will miss while deployed.
- 2009 Awardee Navy Chief Quartermaster John Lehnen helped his children decorate a "daddy jar" filled with special gifts for each day he is deployed, and regularly sent postcards and emails to simply say, "I'm thinking of you and I love you." In the weeks after homecoming, John sat down with each child to review the journals they kept while he was gone.
- 2008 Awardee National Guard Sergeant First Class Brian Booker hung maps of the world in his children’s bedrooms showing where he would be located. While deployed, he kept in touch by sending emails and greeting cards and calling often.
These are things that you can implement with your family too when you travel for business, or "TDY." Even just calling home every night to say goodnight to your kids and catch up on their day will make a big difference in helping them get through the separation. Make sure to communicate with mom to find out what’s going on at home and how you can help from where you are!