What’s with the title? What do you mean Hell? After all, he’s home, she’s back, we are back to our normal life, all is peachy keen, we are farting rainbows and fairy dust! For those readers who are milspouses, you can stop grimacing/laughing/sighing now… ok, I’ll wait….. That, however, has been the perception in the past, in both the civilian and military world.
What’s the reality? Usually a couple of weeks of tiptoeing around each other, still in the “oh, he’s home/I’m home, I’m not going to say that this (or that, or t’other) is driving me nuts” mindset. There’s the demolition of the walls we each build up to protect ourselves, trying to remember that this other person does live here, it’s not just R&R leave, or a visit between TDYs or schools; and remembering that we are married; how to talk to each other without waiting for the phone lag, or by Instant Message or Skype!
There’s also a let down. Let’s be serious here, we’ve dreamed about and planned that reunion, whether it was the quiet meeting at the airport, or the big on base flags fluttering, banner waving, march in, band playing whoo hoo event; the romantic evening or the full on family dinner with everyone laughing and loving and picking up the conversations where we left off. Whether or not these plans actually happened (and we all have the stories about not meeting where you thought, the traffic; the disaster at dinner or the kids who refused to hug the stranger that just came home), after all that adrenaline, the decompression reminds me of the day after Christmas. Now, now, the work of re-integration starts.
Work. Yes, it’s work to reintegrate the family unit, whether you are a couple or have young children at home. When the first groups came back from deployments – there were no programs for anyone, and in some situations, all hell seemed to break loose. Tanya Biank wrote about the deaths at Fort Bragg in Army Wives (the book), and there were many reports about the post deployment problems – so many that the military took notice and many post deployment programs for returning troops began to be utilized – including the Minnesota National Guard program “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” These programs include the families, but I have heard that sometimes they are a “stand in line/check the box” exercise! I know everyone is trying very hard to make sure that we get the help we need, but really – when a few hundred service members come back at the same time – sheer numbers will tend to clog up that system.
Now is the time we need to make sure we pay attention. Not just to the returning service member, but to the family; to the spouse and the kids who are trying to reintegrate too. My question here - Individual or family counseling – which is best for you? Do you want to talk to someone in a group, or one on one? Do you want someone who has “been there, done that” or do you think that a civilian counselor is actually a better fit for you?
Can we talk?
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