Thousands of National Guard troops and military Reservists in the United States and United Kingdom have been mobilized in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Mobilization any time requires preparation to ensure things run smoothly at home while you’re away. But during a pandemic, additional planning and support might be especially necessary to protect the health of you and your loved ones.
Whether you’ve mobilized in the past or this is your first time, advice from those who have been there can be critical in helping you shift into full-time military service, especially in these unprecedented times. To help you anticipate some common challenges and make a successful plan to navigate them, here are some tips from recently mobilized personnel who are also full-time employees at Citi in the U.S. and U.K.
TIPS FROM RECENTLY MOBILIZED PERSONNEL AT CITI
“Balancing work and personal responsibilities in and of itself is a challenge, and time management is really the way to tackle it. Despite the demands of the job you are tasked to do, setting aside time can really help to create the necessary balance. Time to decompress, time to focus on yourself and personal developments, time for family and loved ones and time to complete any lingering tasks. It may not be as easy as it sounds, but proper time management can be very beneficial.” – Damon Gayle, Personal Banker at Citi and Navy Reservist mobilized to Long Island, New York
“Family members can help service members that are mobilized by simply providing moral support and ensuring they keep in contact as best and often as possible. Employers can play their part by simply acknowledging the service member through some means of recognition/encouragement so that the mobilized individual knows they’re not just being supported by family at home, but also by their family at work. Creditors can offer incentives to service members that are mobilized like discounted rates on loans, a grace period on existing payments, and flexible and convenient payment plans. Any other means of helping to alleviate any stress associated with having to manage bill payments is a sign of support.” – Damon Gayle
“I have not seen my wife or children since February. Fortunately, modern communication means I’m able to have regular video chats with my children and am able to speak with my wife every night…but I feel that I have not been able to support her in co-parenting, chores like walking the dog, or in little bits of DIY that result from boisterous children. Nevertheless, I’d like to make the point that this has not been a usual deployment. For probably the first time since WWII, civilians and the military have been in the same level of danger and experiencing the same conditions. And, in many ways, it has been rewarding to not only contribute to addressing the problem but also to gain the camaraderie and sense of belonging that comes with working alongside a group of professionals from the military and the Civil Service. This has been a contrast to the isolation that I know many colleagues have felt.” – Chris Chapman, Credit Strategist at Citi and reservist with the Fifth Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, mobilized in the UK
“Citi has been excellent and I couldn’t reasonably ask for more support, either on the policy level or from my colleagues and managers. This was particularly evident at the start of my mobilization when there was a lot of confusion and contradictory information about the dates of my mobilization. In general, I’d say that the stress of mobilization is significant, and reassurance and encouragement from managers helps alleviate at least some concerns.” – Chris Chapman
PREPARING FOR MOBILIZATION DURING A PANDEMIC
Here are four things you can do ahead of your mobilization to help successfully navigate some of the unique challenges that come with being mobilized during a pandemic.
1. Notify your employer and work together to make a plan. Let your employer know about your mobilization as soon as possible and discuss a strategy for managing your workload before, during and after. Know your rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and utilize resources available from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to help guide your conversation and work plan and ensure you are eligible for reemployment once your mobilization is over.
2. Create or update your family care plan. With increased unemployment, remote work and learning and the threat of coronavirus, it may be more important than ever to build a solid family care plan for while you’re away. Work with your significant other, family members and close friends to build a support network and plan that addresses childcare, healthcare, important documents, finances, household chores and other crucial day-to-day tasks.
3. Review and adjust your personal budget. Mobilization can create unique financial challenges, perhaps in addition to an already tightened family budget due to the current pandemic. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to contact your creditors and review your monthly budget to reduce expenses, prioritize spending, utilize available resources and maximize your savings if you’ll receive additional income as a result of being mobilized.
4. Take steps to maintain your overall health. It’s critical to take steps to ensure the overall health of you and your loved ones while you’re away – that means emotional, physical and financial health. Maintaining open lines of communication professionally and personally, building solid family care and financial plans, taking precautions to maintain your physical health and avoid coronavirus exposure can help ensure a successful transition into and out of mobilization. The National Military Family Association has compiled a comprehensive site to provide updated information on benefits, testing resources and tips to keep you healthy during mobilization. Money Management International (MMI) is also providing financial updates and assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.