4 Tips for a successful Unaccompanied Tour
1. Take care of yourself. Remember you can’t help your loved one if you are sick or emotionally drained. Take the time to eat right, sleep and give yourself the occasional break; you deserve it!
Resources the State Department offers to DOS, USAID, and their family members:
· Deployment Stress Management Program (DSMP) is located in Mental Health Services within the Office of Medical Services. The DSMP is a community based program to support the psychological health of Foreign Service Officers, Department of State (DoS) and USAID employees, and their families who are or will be assigned to high stress / high threat / unaccompanied tours (HS/HT/UT). The DSMP provides information, referrals, initial assessment, and brief treatment for problems related to the stress of deployment. They offer a support group meeting twice a month in the Department of State and meditation practice. For more information, visit www.state.gov/m/med/dsmp/index.htm
· Employee Consultation Service (ECS) has a staff of psychiatric social workers. They offer consultation, evaluation, and referral services to families of U.S. government employees assigned to diplomatic posts abroad and to employees and family members on an unaccompanied tour. Walk-ins are welcome, or you may schedule an appointment. For more information www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c21952.htm
· MHN, Inc. is a comprehensive mental and behavioral health services company with extensive experience in providing confidential web-based, telephonic, and in-person resources to employees and family members throughout an unaccompanied tour. Log on with the word (single word lower case) unaccompaniedtour in the company code https://members.mhn.com/external/public/default/homepage
Other places to look:
· The Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI) provides programs that show you how to live a contented life, free of conflict and fear, by opening your mind and body to its inherent ground of health and well-being: www.irest.us
· Authentic Happiness is the homepage of Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology, a branch of psychology that focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions. www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx
2. Be organized. Whether you are getting ready to leave for the first time or getting ready for the final R&R, it is always a good idea to look at, use, and make check lists. Times of transition (whether it be going to or coming from Post) can be very stressful. And, stressful situations can sometimes cause us to be forgetful (amongst other things). This is where those lists become very important for you and your family; they help you to remember!
· Write FLO! We have a number of good lists we can forward to you. FLOaskUT@state.gov
· Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) helps U.S. Government employees and their family members prepare for an overseas assignment or a return home. We encourage you to explore the website and email OBC (FSIOBCInfoCenter@state.gov) with questions and requests for additional information www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c49333.htm
3. Think security. Your home, your car, your personal safety and your virtual presence all need extra care.
· Create good passwords and change them often. Use sites like USAA’s Password Strength Indicator to see how strong your password is. www.usaa.com/inet/pages/security_take_steps_protect_logon?action=INIT&wa_ref=SEC_CTR_YourSec_logon_CyberCodeText&SearchRanking=7&SearchLinkPhrase=password
· Wondering about an offer and can’t get in touch with your partner for advice? Use www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com for advice.
· Look at State Department Federal Credit Union on their tips for the Foreign Service www.sdfcu.org/ForeignServiceCenter
4. Cultivate appreciation. Take time to appreciate the little things! Appreciate the sacrifice your loved one is making for you and for the service of this country. Appreciate all the hard work your family is doing while you are away doing an unaccompanied tour. Tell your loved one how much you appreciate them! Brag about them to others and let your loved one overhear! Write words of appreciation in your e-mails and other communications. Remember the words of Voltaire: “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”