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Military Homecoming: Things to Consider as a Family Member or Friend

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The anticipation of a homecoming may come with many different feelings. It is understandable that you may be feeling anxious, excited, even worried all at once. As a family member or friend, you can be a key supporter for your service member as they return home from deployment – no matter if you live nearby or far away.

It is important to keep in mind that your service member may also be feeling a range of emotions. After being away for several months, there are adjustments to be made when coming home. Whether your service member is clear or vague in what they want or need when coming home, the ultimate goal is to be a source of support for them. When the time comes, listen to your service member’s wants and needs, and be patient.

Things to consider after deployment

When returning home from deployment, service members need time to adjust and settle into the changes that occurred while they were gone. They could be feeling excitement, uncertainty or even anxiety about reuniting, which is why time to process and reintegrate is so important.

Each returning service member differs in how they manage reintegration. Everyone will have their own reactions. Here are a few things to consider when your service member comes home.

Post-deployment checklist. When your service member first arrives home, they will have some operational requirements to complete. Whether it was a short or long deployment, service members must undergo debriefings, health evaluations and sometimes, counseling. These are expected to be done almost immediately upon return before any leave time is permitted. Learn more about the five key stages of reunion and reintegration.

Rest and relaxation. On a typical deployment, service members work 12-hour shifts, six days a week. It is no surprise then, that they are tired after coming home. They may be sleep deprived or trying to readjust to the time zone and might not want visitors right away. Rather than planning back-to-back reunions, allowing for downtime may be more helpful to your service member.

Handling communication. Deployment is different for every service member. While some may have no issues with reintegrating after returning, others may find it hard to communicate with their loved ones. If you feel that you’re having trouble connecting to your service member, remember to give them time and respect their boundaries.

Keep in mind, there are multiple people that service members must give their time and attention. Married service members need to settle back in with their spouse and children, while single service members may have significant others or close friends they want to spend quality time with. To avoid any misunderstandings, be sure to communicate with your service member about their expectations for homecoming.

To better understand what your service member may be experiencing after coming home, check out Plan My Deployment, a free online tool that assists service members and their loved ones during all phases of deployment.

Help your service member, their spouse or children get the support they need. Military OneSource is free and available 24/7 to support active-duty, National Guard and reserve service members to deal with all aspects of military life.