I love deployments. I know it may sound crazy to some of you but I want to go on as many as possible early in my career. I believe in doing hard work upfront so that I can enjoy myself after the fact. Someday I will probably be sick of the idea of being away from my family. However, it can be such an advantage to anyone who wants to be successful in life.
Deployments are what you make of them. If you are lazy and just want to spend a year playing games and watching movies on your off time then so be it. The dining facility has plenty of fried food and sweets for you to eat 24 hours a day for free. Sounds nice for some people but those soldiers are the ones who complain the whole time and then return 30 pounds heavier, broke, and only progressed in Call of Duty.
Instead take advantage of the free gyms all over and the ability to do your own PT workout. Set a physical goal for yourself beyond the PT test and work towards that goal over the next year. Return with a whole new body that would have been really difficult back here in the states to accomplish in a year because of all the distractions.
Also if you have the resources where you are deployed then take some college classes. Ask your supervisor if you would be able to attend actual in-classroom classes if they happen to overlap the duty day. If not then try taking online classes. Some colleges offer a test site that you can play around with to see if the internet is up to par. Combine TA and Financial Aid and you can earn extra money while getting a degree. Return a year later with an extra 15-20 credits.
Spend your deployment focusing on your career. Study for the promotion board, study for the soldier of the month board, learn all the ins and outs of your job. Practice your leadership skills by requesting more responsibility. Heck, what else are you gonna do? You are away from family, away from all the shopping and entertainment that is here in the states. You don't really want to focus on all of this when you get back, do you? Return a year later promotable or possibly even promoted.
Lastly, be wise with your money. Many soldiers experience a money shock during deployment and suddenly start receiving way more money than they need to get by. They feel rich and become careless. You will receive at least an extra $600-$700 and will have a lot fewer expenses. You will receive BAS and BAH if you are married but get free housing and free food while you are there. You will save on gas by not driving, you will not have a phone so you can suspend your account, as well as suspending your car insurance. Set aside a predetermined amount each week to spend on yourself and then place the rest into savings or pay off any debt. This way you will still enjoy your money but with control. Return a year later debt-free with a large savings account. You will feel as if you won the lottery when you return.