Managing Post-Deployment Expectations

How to give your soldier–and yourself–time to readjust. 

Posted in , Feb 17, 2015

Edie's son Jimmy with fiancée Katie after his first deployment.

For those with a loved one in the military, the return from deployment is a joyous and exciting time. We’ve been separated from them for months and now they’re home safe.

But along with the happy reunions, we need to manage our expectations and give our soldier–and ourselves–time to readjust. 

Here are some tips:

1)  Highs and Lows
Remember that extreme highs are often followed by extreme lows. This is going to be an emotional time for everyone. Be ready for the lows as well as the highs. Knowing that the tough times will come, makes it easier to cope.

Edie's son Jimmy with fiancée Katie after his first deployment.2)  Breathing Space
Give your service member some breathing space. I know when our son returned home from deployments I wanted to pack his days (and evenings) with reunions and the things he missed out on while he was gone.

My heart was in the right place, but no one can go from event to event to event without some down time. I learned to plan a few things, spaced out over several weeks, but let him dictate the majority of what he wanted to do and when.

3)  Planning
Include your service person in the planning. While surprises can be okay for some, most military personnel returning from deployment don’t find them enjoyable.

For them, reintegrating into normal life, is stressful enough without surprises. Before they return home, ask some questions and find out what they envision homecoming to look like.

4)  Sharing
Don’t forget to share. I had to constantly remind myself that there were lots of people who loved my son and wanted to spend time with him when he returned home. I worked hard to make sure I wasn’t monopolizing his time.

5)  Budget
Watch your budget. When someone we love comes home, it’s only natural to want to celebrate with the very best of everything. But it’s also important to stick with a budget. For military families, the extra duty pay is a great way to pay down credit card debt or fund an IRA for the future.

6)  United Front
Manage the kiddos. For moms and dads returning to children at home, it’s important to stay consistent with the rules of the house. Don’t undermine your spouses authority and remember it’s important for everyone that the parents present a united front.

7)  Time Together
Take time to get reacquainted. If you’re married to someone in the military, those absences can take a toll on your relationship. Make sure you’re taking time to nurture your relationship. Take advantage of marriage weekends and other things that can give you time together.

When we make the effort to manage our post-deployment expectations, the return home can be a happy celebration, with minimum stress. 

Tags: Soldier
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