A Guide for Families of Military Members
The days and weeks after a homecoming from war can be filled with excitement, relief, and many other feelings. This guide is for military family members, like you. This guide is also helpful for friends and returning veterans themselves. Following the veterans return from overseas duty, the entire family will go through a transition. This guide will help each of you understand readjustment during homecoming.
Reintegration following homecoming involves taking time for the veteran, family and friends to become reacquainted. Talk and listen to one another to restore trust, support and closeness. There may be times when you and your returning veteran feel stress, uncertainty, concern, and distance from one another. It may feel as if the service member is still fighting a war, rather than truly being home. All of these emotions are a normal part of readjustment following deployment to a war zone. At first, these reactions may be difficult to deal with. Some service members have real difficulties and struggle during their transitions back home. Because many service members face redeployment back to overseas duty, it is especially important to address these difficulties during this time back home. Learning more can help your family cope. In this guide you will learn about:
- How expectations about homecoming may not be the same for service members and family members
- Ways to talk and listen to one another in order to re-establish trust, closeness and openness
- Information about possible problems to watch out for
- How to offer and find assistance for your loved ones
- What help is available and what it involves
A common expectation is that the family will be exactly the same as it was before the deployment. However, during deployment families naturally change. Children have grown and spouses have taken on new responsibilities. New friendships may have formed. War zone exposure is a life changing experience for those deployed. Understanding what you might expect will help with the transition back to civilian life. In this guide you will learn ways to cope better, and if problems arise, ways to find assistance.
Understand that service members respond to experiences in a war zone in different ways. Some service members report feeling upset or “keyed up” even after they return home. Some may continue to think about events that occurred in combat, sometimes even acting as if back in a combat situation. These are common “combat stress reactions” (also called acute stress reactions) that can last for days or weeks and are a normal reaction to combat experiences. Below is a list of common reactions: