Military men and women visualize the prospective moment of reunion with their friends and family back home for months on end. It brings them comfort. All that repetitive thinking almost certainly leads to high hopes of what an amazing experience saying the first hello, and embracing your loved ones in a big, warm hug, ought to be.
However, reintegration into society – a move back into a quieter life at home, immediately follows after the reunion; however, a soldier who has been away from the U.S soil for a long time tends to anticipate or think about the reunion part a lot more than he thinks of the reintegration part.
Factors that increase or decrease your chances of easily reintegrating into civilian life
Studies suggest 44% of the veterans who served at least 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, faced unforeseen challenges re-entering civilian life after rendering a decade-long, difficult and demanding epoch of military services offshore.
It has been observed that soldiers who are high school graduates and enlisted personnel are more likely to face difficulty re-entering into civilian life back home in comparison with commissioned officers and those who are college graduates since they have a relatively easier time readjusting into society after their military service.
The veterans who experience a potentially lethal service-related injury along with those who undergo an emotionally traumatic experience are more likely to face problems returning to civilian life as well. Additionally, veterans who had known someone who was injured or killed during their service and the veterans who had served in the combat zone will find reintegration into society difficult as well.
Veterans who abide by their religious beliefs or those who diligently attend religious services are seen to have a relatively easier time readjusting into civilian life. Studies infer that veterans who attend a religious service at least once a week are 67% more likely to easily re-enter civilian life.
The time of reunion
Reunions after a long deployment period are always overwhelmingly joyous. Sometimes, these feelings of euphoria and excitement can taper off when you start to realize the changes in each other. Other times you may not react as well as you thought you will at the time of reunion. Don’t forget that deployment is difficult for the whole family including the children.
The family will be glad that their family is once more complete. They may also feel resentment at being separated from you in the first place. However, such feelings are completely normal will diminish with the passage of time.
The reunion you have been fantasizing during your military service will probably not go as smoothly as most anticipate. Make sure you are prepared to go home jetlagged, exhausted, possibly anxious, and with a demandingly long to-do list.
You may have pictured the moment of reunion several times, but what you may not have accounted for is the delayed flight, bad weather, missed phone calls, family emergencies or other unpredicted details that can ruin the picture perfect reunion. It is imperative to have realistic expectations so insignificant occurrences do not disappoint you.
You must also have a plan B if anything goes wrong so you don’t let things like a delayed flight prevent you from picking the kids up from school or being at work etc. You must also communicate your return plans extensively with your spouse after you have overlooked the details yourself in advance so both of you are prepared.
Being in touch with your spouse and conveying your expectations or needs at home will prevent any distasteful events. Too many veterans have come home to an unexpected welcome home party when all they had wanted was some quiet time to process all that they have gone through during their service. So make sure there are no surprises.
The first few days back home can be a bit tricky
Families of deployed military men and women learn to get by smoothly. There are significant events that might have taken place at home during the deployment which may make the home feel a little different. Make sure you inform your loved one returning home of any changes that took place at home while they were away no matter how insignificant they may feel. The littlest things like changes in family schedules and bedtimes can come as a surprise to the veteran coming back home. Things may seem unfamiliar at home.
Being away for so long may also require getting to know your spouse once again. Therefore, make some time out for your spouse. A special date nite or some alone time on the couch after the kids have hit the sack will do. Additionally, it is also important for the spouse to sit the service member down after they have come home to openly talk about the responsibilities to be shared.
Keeping the responsibilities away from the service member will do no good. As a family, you need to make them feel like they belong, and have a share of household responsibilities just like you do. It is possible that the service member may want to adjust to life back home gradually or jump right in. Whatever they choose of the two, you must be supportive.
Be patient and give yourself some time
Do not expect life to be just as it was before deployment right away. It will take several months to life back home has returned to normal completely. When you expect the required length of time for things to go back to normal, you will not be alarmed. Several aspects may feel disconcerting such as sharing household responsibilities, finances and sometimes, sex with your spouse. You must treat your spouse like they are your best friend and communicate well so they don’t feel unappreciated.
The best way to mitigate through unsettling feelings is to talk through them with your spouse. Don’t ask the details of war or pry when the service member does not willingly open up to them. Talking about the war experience will be difficult to talk about for the service member, especially if he/she had been directly involved in violence.
When they do open up, make sure they have your ear and listen without any judgments. The period of deployment often leads to couples growing apart, now that they are back home, you must use this time to re-establish your bond.
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