Everyone talks about how to cope with deployments. How to live life while they're gone and all the cute care package ideas to mail out to them to make their time away a little better, but no one really talks about home-coming or how to even cope with your loved one when they return from deployment. Not everyone has the same experience while they were deployed. Many have gone through things that you can only imagine. Coming back home to a family environment after many months of being out at war is a very hard transition and here's the best ways to cope with it and be supportive to your loved one.
Homecomings are always a great way to catch up and get to spoil your soldier (I say soldier as that is my case but your marine, sailor, airmen, etc) with love and affection. I know we wanted to see all the pictures of his time over there in Afghanistan and the gorgeous mountains that he was talking about. About his experiences. Others wanted to know if he killed anyone while he was over there? How many did he kill? How many explosions? All the "cool" stuff that bring that adrenaline rush? Well exactly that!!! That adrenaline rush is what most people don't understand. A lot of our soldiers come back with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which is caused by all the stress and trauma that they experienced. I knew that I shouldn't be wanting to know what happened but to instead be there for him in his transition back home. I stopped to listen to him the few times he was ok with talking about what happened overseas. He was always very quiet about things but as a wife, family, or a close friend it is your job to watch out for your soldier and help them transition back to the life back on American soil. It is not easy. Here's a few things you can do to make homecoming and post-deployment easier for you and your loved one.
Let's start off with home-coming! This is the day that we all have been waiting for for months. The day that you can finally hold your loved one and know that he is home, on American soil, safe and sound. This day comes with a lot more then just hugs, kisses, eating out, and well normal married couple stuff. This comes with support, love, and showing your other half that he can count on you for anything. But first lets celebrate his home-coming the right way.
1. Don't tell anyone the date and time your soldier will be home. I did a riddle with my family to tell them with things that no one else outside of our family would really know. I've heard of military spouses posting it on Facebook and then having to post pone their homecoming date for security reasons. Don't do it. You wouldn't want to get caught or even worse... have to wait longer to see him.
2. Make this day special. Make it about him. Welcome him back to his home with open arms. Have a clean home, a nice dinner or dinner reservations, I even had a cake made to celebrate with the family that night.
3. Get cute outfits. If you have kids you can get them some really cute home-coming outfits on Etsy. You want to look your absolute best when he gets home.
4. Have banners. If you have kids you can make some cute banners with them. I had a banner for my daughter, for me, my dogs, and a big one on our garage door. Yes I was excited to have him back home with us.
5. I also made matching charts for the family. My husband likes Batman so I made Batman shirts. Everyone kept asking about them at the home-coming ceremony.
6. Make this day special for him. Your soldier has been through a lot throughout the last few months and probably has gone through things that are very hard to understand or even wrap your head around. Don't make this about his experiences overseas but instead about how excited you are about having back home.
Now these can be for both Home-coming and Post-Deployment.
7. Don't talk about what happened. He is coming back home and the last thing he wants to think about is what he just left behind. Give him his space but be supportive. It is very hard to do both. I had days where I just wanted him to talk to me about everything that happened but then I realized that it's when he is ready, not me.
8. Don't talk about what all he missed while he was gone. The last thing he wants to hear is that he couldn't be there for the birth of his kid or her first birthday. Instead talk about the things you want to do to make up for the months you were away from him. Plan a vacation with him or a nice romantic date. He probably missed out on a lot of movies so you can plan a movie marathon with him to catch up on all the good movies he missed while he was gone. Make the upcoming holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. 10x better so that way they can be memorable to him.
9. Watch his behavior. Smoking and drinking or even drugs can start up in times of transition. Watch for these signs. If he didn't smoke before and starts smoking or even doing drugs. If starts drinking more then what he used too. I know everyone copes with it in their own way but watch out for unhealthy addictions and behaviors.
10. Watch his attitude. If he is more angry, to himself, upset, depressed, or even seems suicidal, call immediate help or look for a counselor. Maybe even talk to him about certain things. Be nice about and ask if he needs to talk. That you have seen certain changes on him and are worried about him.
11. Learn what helps you can get through your military such as marriage counseling, therapy, etc. Marriage counseling doesn't just have to be for a bad marriage or a marriage that's having issues. It can also be to get help on a hard event such as this. This issue can be stressful and not everyone knows how to deal with it. Maybe talking to someone can give him a little push to being more open or just helping you guys communicate certain things. It may even help him get a push to getting personal therapy and help on coping with what happened while he was deployed.
12. He is NOT a bad person. If he opens up to you and tells you things that you never thought he would do just remember that that doesn't make him a bad person. He did what he had to do to come back home to you guys and complete his mission overseas. As a soldier sometimes you have to do things that you never thought you would ever do in your life or even see things that you just can't explain.
13. Be open minded about things. Sometimes coming back from war means dealing with issues such as PTSD or even a possible med-board down the road. Don't hold this against him. Be mentally prepared for anything. Do your research before he returns home. Feel free to talk to other military spouses who have gone through deployments before and how they coped with it. Don't expect every case to be the same but it's good to get an idea in your mind of different scenarios that can occur. Some people don't come back affected by what happened while others come back with a dark cloud in their minds that haunts them every night. Every deployment is different. It all depends where you were deployed, what fob, what missions they had, what issues came up, etc... so be open to anything.
14. Divorce!!! Don't do it! If he has issues after deployment, divorce is not the solution. That's just the easy way out. This is when he needs you the most. You vowed for better or worse. This is the worse so be there for him. Help him. This goes with everything I said before. Do your research, find help, therapy, counseling, doctors, anything. The military helps makes this easier but don't get divorced cause your husband/wife came back with PTSD or other behavioral issues. With help, a good support system, love, and most of all GOD, you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way.
Remember to get ready before he arrives. You can even go to different support groups on your base for further help on how to manage this transition. Be patient, caring and loving and NEVER GIVE UP!!! Put all things in His hands.
Please feel free to share with others and to comment below with any tips or personal experiences that you might like to share.
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