How can I make it easier for my loved one when they return? Connect with all the resources that you can before, during and after deployment. Here are a couple of tips that might help:
- www.militaryonesource.com offers many resources, including 12 FREE therapy sessions, per person, per issue with a therapist in your area.
- Connect with your local Family Readiness Group for support: http://www.familyreadinessgroup.org/
- If in the Army National Guard, make sure to attend any “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” events that are offered. http://www.beyondtheyellowribbon.org
- Watch for any information from your unit as far as reintegration events. Many troops are providing 30-60-90 reintegration events for both the soldier and the family. These provide a great opportunity to get information on continuing support, as well as attend workshops on relationships, specific issues, and family dynamics.
- Ask your warrior ahead of time what he/she would like as a homecoming. Most prefer a quiet time with close family only. They need time to reconnect and get acclimated. NEVER surprise your warrior, (they DON’T like surprises) it will not go well.
- Don’t try to ask about their “experience.” For many, they need time to process. Tell them you are there for them if they ever need to talk and don’t be offended if they don’t.
- Please, please don’t ask “did you kill anyone?” This is the number one question that the warrior hears from their friends and family. As I prepare them to reintegrate I often warn them about this question and tell them to have a ready/pat answer. It would be much better if it just wasn’t asked. Though they anticipate it, many are just unnerved by this question.
Remember, your loved one may be different from their experience. You may be different from this experience. Now is the time to begin to work on a “new normal” and not concentrate on what isn’t the same. Grab hold of the idea that there can be an incredible strength and growth gained through this experience. How we view our separation and experience has a direct connection with how we live from here on. Allow for change, give room for healing, and watch your own love and patience grow.
Let’s continue to love and support our military and their families!
Blessings…and a salute!