By Angela Caban
Just as you feel like the world is coming to an end, deployment is over. Your soldier is returning home after a long 15 month deployment and all you feel is this bittersweet combination of both joy and stress. Why is that? There is no doubt in your mind that you missed your soldier, so why this anxious feeling. This is quite normal and there should be no reason to be alarmed. You are starting the “Welcome Home” process and no one said it would be easy. For many spouses, the “Welcome Home” process can be more difficult than the farewell.
And what a wonderful feeling it is to see your soldier take their first steps into a home that has been so empty for so long. And always remember that whatever emotions you may be feeling, your soldier will also be feeling. I know the feeling of homecoming and how exciting this day can be, but beware of doing too much too fast. This process should be welcomed slowly and in moderation.
You will want to have friends and family over to welcome him home, but your soldier might need some time to get readjusted to normal life home. Taking a few weeks after he returns home might be the safe thing to do, and discuss it over with your soldier. Remember that for some soldiers returning home means more challenges. Whether they are dealing with PTSD or fear of returning to their civilian job, this can be the most stressful time in a deployment. Spend quality time with your soldier; get to know each other all over again. After all you have been living apart for so long; it will take some time getting back into routines.
Patience is a Virtue
When a soldier returns back to civilian lifestyle, it may take some time. The National Guard Family Programs Web site reports that the reunion process has five stages.
-The preparation period: Preparing for their return
-The honeymoon period: This last several days followed by disruption
-The disruption period: The challenges start
-The adjustment period: New routines are put into place
-The “new normal” is established!
There may be some extreme mental and emotional changes, so be patient and flexible with your soldier. This will ensure that they are not overly stressed.
Communicate and Thank
The most important part of any return is to communicate about what has happened and let go of any pent up feelings you may have. This can be a hard process, especially for your soldier. Chances are, they will not want to speak too much about what they have experienced, but at least you can speak of what has been happening on the home front while he was gone. If you see that your soldier is having a rough time communicating with you, perhaps he would feel better speaking with someone on base. Never fear asking for information at the medical centers. And of course make sure you thank your soldier. I thank my husband many times for all his service and sacrifices for keeping our country safe. And he knows he is my hero.
Enjoy you’re your reunion together; this has been a long awaited time for you both.
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