The hardest part of your return might be finding a new "normal" routine for you and your family. No two families are alike and the length of time to reestablish roles will vary for each family. As you reunite as a family unit, you may encounter challenges or new stressors.
The service member and family members have acted independently during the deployment - you will need to discuss how you will reintegrate as a family. You have patiently waited for your service member to return and may be anxious to resume your family routine and hand back some chores or take a much-needed break. Or perhaps you tried a new household responsibility previously headed by your spouse that you enjoyed. Talk to your service member about your deployment routine, including successes and challenges. Are there household responsibilities that you would like to maintain? Are there other household tasks that you would like your service member to be responsible for? Do your children have a new schedule or new activities in their lives?
Families separated after a period of time need some time to readjust to each other and to the new routine in the family home. Be patient with each other and have an open dialog with each member of the family regarding division of household responsibilities, preferred communication techniques and how best to support each other through this process. Each member of the family has an important role to play, both during and after the deployment.
Reintegration Tips to Establish a Shared Sense of Purpose
- Understand common factors that have shaped the service member's and family members' sense of purpose during the separation.
- Recognize common concerns shared by the service member and family members resulting from the separation.
- Be aware of relationship breakers: common, sensitive issues that can distance couples.
- Focus on relationship makers: ways to build shared experiences, a shared sense of purpose and closeness.
(Source: COURAGE TO CARE - Uniformed Services University)
What's normal and when should you seek help?
Unfortunately the answer to this question will vary for each family. We would encourage you to seek out resources that can help you answer this question. Many installations offer post-deployment support programs, training and information sessions. You may want to speak with a counselor to determine if you, or a member of your family, need further assistance. A trained professional can offer an unbiased assessment of your situation and offer suggestions for improvement. For more information, check out our Mental Health section for a list of resources available to you and your family.
After Deployment: A mental wellness and behavioral health website addressing post deployment issues.
Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library: Library provides service members, families, providers and veterans an easy way to find deployment health and family readiness information. The library includes fact sheets, guides and other products.
Real Warriors: The Real Warriors Campaign is an initiative launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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