In the Army they are called “soldiers”; Air Force they are “airmen”; Marines they are “marines” and Navy they are “sailors.” To us at home all of these loved ones are “warriors” …brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. When they finally come home there is such a sense of anticipation and joy! Yet even with this joy, there can be a difficult journey of adjustment. For the past two years I have worked as a Military & Family Life Consultant (MFLC) helping with reintegration events with the military and their families. I often see firsthand how a much anticipated homecoming can at times be confusing and challenging.
For many military families reintegration/reconnection with their loved ones can be a rocky road if they are not prepared. We often see the media’s portrayal of the happy reunion at the airport or base, family members crying and hugging their warrior, so happy to be back together. What we don’t see is the readjustment that happens in the days, weeks and months to follow. My hope in working with the military is to help the families realize that this readjustment is a normal part of deployment; it is actually the final phase of a three part process. The first part is preparation/training, second is deployment and third is reintegration.
In all families we are always in the process of trying to create equilibrium or balance. When the warrior leaves, the family has to readjust. They have to create a new balance, making up for the hole left by that loved one. Upon return, the balance is upset once again as we make room for that person back into the family and create what is called a “new normal.”