You’ve waited months, perhaps more than a year, to welcome your soldier home. You’ve shopped for food to make his favorite meal, arranged for his parents to visit upon his return, and helped the kids make signs welcoming him home. But are you really ready for the return?
Sometimes even after all of those sleeplessness nights, counting days until the return, the homecoming doesn’t always lead to sunshine and rainbows. There is often a honeymoon period when you won’t be able to stop looking at each other, and the kids will be stuck like honey to his side. However, some military families are caught off guard by the feelings of resentment that might emerge, the adjustment to new routines, and the fact that somehow life went on during deployment and not everything is just how it used to be.
Possible Threats to the Honeymoon after Homecoming
Even thinking about the idea that there might be negative emotions upon return from deployment might be more than you want to do. However, preparing for the possibilities will help to diminish the likelihood that these situations will occur, and the effects of them won’t have to be so severe. There are bound to be adjustments that need to be made – start thinking early about how things have changed for you during deployment and what those changes might mean to your soldier.
- The children have an earlier bedtime, necessitated by the fact that you needed an extra 30 minutes alone each night.
- The kids have had one authority figure in their life and aren’t used to the ramifications of two in the house.
- You have developed a new weekend routine. On Saturday the kids do their activities, you spend the afternoon working on projects, and in the evening you hang out with other kids and their moms.
- Your mom spends at least 2 afternoons each week at your house, helping with the kids and household chores.
- The financial planning has been on your plate and you have developed a method to the madness.
- You’ve met new friends and enjoy one evening a month going somewhere special with them as a treat for you.
While all of these scenarios are not necessarily negative ones, the effects they might have on your relationship with your soldier upon his return could become negative if you’re not prepared. Make a realistic assessment of how your relationship looked and worked before deployment and make sure that you don’t just assume that it will continue in the new routines without compromise. Your soldier will be facing his own readjustments so it is imperative that you work together as a team to make the homecoming a long lasting positive experience.
Make sure you communicate regularly about daily life. You might be used to independent living and decision making, but you need to remember to include your soldier in the daily routines.
Be watchful for signs of PTSD in your soldier or other stress related issues. Don’t hesitate to encourage him to seek help or talk with someone yourself. Also keep in mind that you might benefit from sharing with a third party how you are adjusting to life after homecoming.
Be aware of changes in the kids’ behaviors, either increased anxiety over your soldier being gone for even a few minutes, or rebellious behavior that tests the waters. Nip this in the bud and work together with your soldier to form a parenting unit. Don’t let the kids create a great divide between you now that you have just gotten him home.
Soon after homecoming sit down and revisit the responsibility list. Maybe you will continue to mow the lawn now, and he wants to take over weekend cooking for the family. Go over the family calendar and get your soldier up to speed on the activities of everyone and how he can participate and help. Just don’t direct the show – form a team. Whatever your decisions are, work on making them together.
Photo credit: Rachel
In Sullivan Illinois, the residents have found a great way to honor their military residents serving in the US Armed Forces. When many were deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, the soldier’s names were nailed to lampposts. As more and more young people volunteered in Sullivan, population 4,400, the parents decided to keep up the tradition.
More than a hundred town residents have served abroad and dozens more will still deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Some names have hung more than once while spouses and siblings are displayed two to a post.
This is the town’s small, informal way of showing its respect to those members of the community who for the most part joined the military out of patriotism.
In Sullivan, the effort to support military personnel and their families includes churches, care package packing parties and coffee klatches. The wonderful thing here is the residents have taken their support an additional step by putting up the signs and honoring their military even further.
As we military family members know, support is imperative during deployment. It is hard for non-military people to understand the fear and helplessness when a loved one deploys for a war zone. The signs are a great way of reminding people on a daily basis that someone’s family member is in harm’s way and protecting each and every one of us.
Since my son will soon be deployed my need for support and understanding grows with each passing day. I think doing something like this in my hometown would be a great comfort to me. Maybe since this story is out other towns might want to do something like this too.
Some might worry about putting a loved one’s name on a sign in public. Let’s face it there are a few crazies out there. I suggest family members or the actual service member have the option of just using their first name. The whole world does not necessarily have to know the service member’s whole name and this might bring a little piece of mind to people who may be skeptical.
So I say spread the word and maybe this could grab some momentum and before we know it many towns and cities could be demonstrating yet one more way to say thank you to our brave military.
My son, LCpl Honda is set to deploy to the Sandbox later this year. It is still a few months off so I decided I just cannot freak out and go out of my mind with worry just yet. Nevertheless, I have to admit that each day that comes to pass, I feel a scream welling up inside of me. I know that this is probably normal and I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.
When my nephew, Cpl Red went on his first deployment I watched my sister, Crafty go through this process. I was with her when she had to say goodbye as his unit left. That experience is forever stamped in my memory. I watched other parents, wives, girlfriends and children say goodbye to their loved ones. I saw the look on their faces. I came home and told my mom, “I don’t want to ever have to do this again.” However, in my heart I knew I would.
I remember when I was very young and Vietnam ended. I naively thought that there would not really be any more wars. Why? I guess because I was young and not very informed about the way of the world. I never ever thought that a child of mine might have to go off to combat. I think after 9/11 that changed. With my daughter, Cinderella, who was active duty army at the time, for the first time ever, I felt the fear that I feel now.
I have only told family about LCpl Honda’s deployment. I cannot bear to divulge this information to other friends and co-workers just yet. LCpl Honda worked at the same place I worked before going off to boot camp. So everyone there likes him and knows him well. I just cannot bear the sympatric looks that I know will come. Please do not get me wrong. I know people mean well, but non-military families just do not have the understanding. It is not their fault. They are just not in the situation.
I have also found that I purposely do not do things like watch war movies. My husband wanted to watch ‘Saving Private Ryan’ this past weekend. I could not do it. HBO is replaying ‘Taking Chance’ at the end of the month. It is about a fallen Marine being escorted home. I plan to record it, but I do not think I will watch it until this deployment is over and my son and nephew are home safe.
I am not sure how well I will cope in the days ahead, but I will at least try to “soldier on” and if anybody asks, I will just reply with, “Good to go.”
Chief emailed me today and alerted me to this group. Now he loves music – plays guitar, is trying to learn the bagpipes (oh, the dog LOVED that one… howled in a descant!) and the mandolin, plays harmonica… and when he saw Operation Happy Note, he was intrigued. Then he saw – they are from Fergus Falls Minnesota, so there’s a “home state” connection for us.
The Baker’s, from Fergus Falls MN sent their son and a friend of his guitars when they were deployed in 2005. Since then, they set up Operation Happy Note, and have been sending all kinds of instruments, guitars, violins, banjos, mandolins, harmonicas to deployed troops. They have help from manufacturers, but the shipping costs – are up to OHN and can be quite high (as you and I know from sending our care packages!) It’s hard to know that there are instruments waiting to be sent to someone who could use that escape that can be found in making music, because of postage!
If you are feeling in the giving mood – think about Operation Happy Note