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Deployment is over and you’re returning home. Time to reconnect with family and friends, and return to your “normal” life.
Knowing what to expect can help you be prepared. Use the following tips to help smooth your transition.
Tips for transitioning after deployment
- Tell your friends and relatives how you’d like to celebrate. Chances are, they’ll be excited to see you, but how you want to celebrate your return is up to you. Don’t be afraid to gently tell them if you prefer a smaller gathering to a large party. Keep them informed of your travel arrangements in case you arrive sooner or later than expected.
- Take care of yourself. You may have lots of people to see and places to go, but give yourself time to relax and readjust. Ease back into your routines and try to be patient if things don’t feel comfortable right away. Sometimes it can take weeks or even months before you feel settled again.
- Allow yourself to feel all kinds of emotions. Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel, even if it’s uncomfortable. You may need some time to settle into your life and sort out emotions. Go easy on yourself, give things time, and reach out for support if you need it. Learn more about Military OneSource free, non-medical counseling resources.
- Talk about how you’re feeling and encourage friends and family to do the same. Your loved ones may not know how to ask about your experience, but talking about your feelings can be an important part of the readjustment process. Take the initiative to show them it’s OK to discuss it. If you could use some extra guidance, Military OneSource offers a free, confidential Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultation designed to help returning service members reconnect with loved ones.
- Be patient. You may feel out of sync with your loved ones or friends. Coming home isn’t just an adjustment for you — it’s an adjustment for everyone around you. If you have children, be prepared for them to have outbursts of emotion or give you some attitude. Keep the lines of communication open and be patient with yourself and with loved ones. Try to have one-on-one time with your partner and each of your children.
- Focus on the positive. Expecting everything to fall into place immediately is probably unrealistic. Instead of dwelling on things that may be wrong, try to focus on what’s going right. Notice things your partner, family or friends are doing well and express your appreciation. Gratitude can be a powerful way to reduce stress and build connection. Make sure to extend the same appreciation to yourself as well. Take time to notice what’s going right and give yourself the credit you deserve.
- Limit your use of alcohol. Drinking too much can confuse your thinking, cloud your judgment and suppress feelings. Do your best to limit your consumption.
- Watch your spending. You may find it tempting to celebrate your return with a shopping spree, but it’s important to stay within your means. Learn more about resources for staying financially fit.
- Know when to seek help. If you’re feeling signs of stress — either physical or emotional — seek expert help as soon as possible. Free, confidential non-medical counseling support is available through Military OneSource or your installation Military and Family Support Center. If you are suicidal or in a state of crisis, you can contact the Military Crisis Line 24 hours a day. Call 988 and press 1, or text 838255.