Well we are less than 30 days from leaving Kirkuk. I had a funny conversation the other night. The wife made a comment that I would wake up in the middle of the night and "clear" the house, or take cover under the couch. She was joking, but it does show there is some anxiety about reintegrating. This will be my first redeployment, and we all want to be together again, but there is the nervousness of coming home. What are y'alls advice on making the transition smooth? I am sure we will quickly readapt to each other. I would just like to know what others did to help make the house seem home again.
Also, the wife asked me if I were comfortable carrying immediately after coming home. I don't think it will be a problem. I will take it easy going out where it is crowded for awhile though. Any thoughts, this could be its own thread.
You are not the same person you where before you left, and your wife is not the same person she was either.
You have to find your new normal, because you cannot (either of you) forget what you both went through while you where gone.
Work together to find that normal, hold hands, talk and talk and talk and then talk some more.
You can have great joy in rediscovering each other, but be aware that things won't be the same as they where before you left. You have both experienced life changing things while you where gone, they cannot be undone or forgotten.
But you still are at your core the same people you where before you parted, you just need to find that core again.
Originally Posted by TangoMonkey
My only advice is to, be...patient.
It's going to be very difficult for you to get back into "civilian" mode with other humans. This also, means your wife, and kids, if you have them. If this is your first "re"deployment, then you can possibly be quick to anger and even have very little patience.
I was married to my HS sweetheart, and when I came back from Iraq (gulf war) and other areas, and she stated I had "changed". I didn't think I did, but looking back on it years later, I indeed noticed the changes in me. It happened after every deployment, to combat and noncombat areas.
Take it slow, remind her gently, that you are going to need some adjusting for sure, and remain in the mindset that you "catch" yourself, and you're aware of your reactions to things. You will need to adjust, and you will adjust more easily knowing that an "adjustment" period will need to happen. Think before you speak, think before you act, think before you THINK.
One of the most important things I can tell you is this; Yes, YOU went through alot and yes YOU had a hard time, but your wife "held the fort" and it's VERY important that she knows you appreciated her doing so, her waiting for you, and HER rough time through this. LET....HER....KNOW.
This one action on your part, will do absolute wonders for your marriage, and your relationship to each other. Trust me, I cannot stress enough the importance of letting her know that you absolutely admired HER, for her actions/commitment/strength on this.
As for the weapon carrying? Pssht, you don't want to be without it here in Amerika anymore, and you'll just feel naked without it anyway. :bier:
You'll be fine. Welcome "almost" home.
20 something days, and a wake up! :hand10:
My man, don't be afraid to ask for help if you think you need it...no shame in that.
Originally Posted by TangoMonkey
OTOH, you might just have a very smooth transition.
Whatever the case, welcome back and thanks.:congrats:
Welcome home and thank you so much for your service!!
I'm currently getting used to America myself after Afghanistan (been back for about two weeks). The first few weeks (or months), you may be feeling kinda weird. Trash on the road doesn't have bombs in it, no one wants to shoot you, the women wear mini-skirts, you get feedom and to be alone. And that support network that constantly bugged you during deployment, your squad or section or whatever, isn't there to help you (the are your best support network, because they know exactly what you went through).
Ass PGRASS said, you are now a new you, and ou need to find your new normal. Your emotions might be kind of out of whack. ou may have trouble sleeping. You may jump when things pop (I already decided I'm not doing 4th of july fireworks while I'm home on leave, I had a couple of IEDs that were to close to comfort over there).
But I also know from after my first tour to Iraq, that all this is normal. If the effects last longer than a month or two, its probably time to go see one of those people the Army pays to help with transition back to he states, no shame in that, and it won't hurt your career.
I can't say anything about a wife, because I'm single. But as for carrying, I did over there, why wouldn't I back home? I'm not gonna end up in the paper surviving two combat tours as a grunt, and then getting stabbed by a mugger.
The others have pretty much covered it. Communication is key. The other biggest thing I notice is that you both will need time away from each other. Your wife has been doing things without you for a year, so she will still want to do some of those things without you. On the other side of that you will also need time away from her, doing stuff on your own, re-acclimating yourself. Dont smother each other.
1- Be proud of your service and what you did during your deployment
2- Be proud of your wife's service and respect her for it
3- Realize that you are a changed man and be wise about it
4- Seek help before you even need it; the military (your command) should have some type of transition counseling services for you and your family
Thank you for your sacrifices and have a safe trip back home.
I know how you feel....take things slow when you get home.
When it was all said and done, between pre-deployment training, deployment, re-deployment, followed by a PCS that involved more separation, I've been away from the family 20 months out of 24 months.
Communication is key...don't make her guess what you are thinking. At the same time, try to keep attitude & mouth "on safe", in a manner of speaking. This is a time to think (more) before speaking because while the intent of your message is one thing, what she is hearing is how you are saying it.
Same goes for the kids (do you have kids?)...don't undermine Mom...she's still in-charge...something else to discuss (issues, discipline, when, how much, etc.)
Don't think things are the same as when you left. When I left, my kids were 5 and 11....now they are 7 (almost 8) and 13 (almost 14)....big changes.
ETA: Yeah...and I carried as soon as I got home too...
Everybody's got the right idea... 2 key things will get you through: Paitence and Communication.
Be paitient with her. She's adapted to you not being there. I know my wife always gets used to having the whole bed and I end up with about 4" of the edge.... paitence is the key.
Communicate! Talk about what she needs you to do, ask her how she's used to doing whatever is going on... it kinda stings, but your role in daily activities has changed, or the activities themselves have changed possibly. Just take it slow and easy brother, and you'll get through.
OH! Seek assistance if you need it. Don't be ashamed, just get the help if you have problems with ANYTHING (irrational anger, nightmares... etc.).
Carrying... sure, why not? Just realize you may be a bit jumpier than you were before you left (the stress environment you were in became the new norm)... be alert, aware etc, but think and remember where you are. I know I've heard about a billion stories of drivers downrange who came back, got blocked in (or whatever) and freaked due to the danger signs they got used to... once again, talk with the wif about it, as she's gonna be your check on ALOT of things.
God bless man. And thank you.
I spent the bigger part of '72 & '73 launching B-52s into Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Long days, weeks months. Now, nearly 40 years later, I still fix those Buffs in my sleep, waking my wife as I shout orders and directions. War experiences never leave you, no matter how minute or extreme they may be.
If it's a problem when you return--[I]get help![/I] Don't ever let the thought of "What will the guys think" enter your mind. They are not the ones who (hopefully) will be spending the rest of your life with you; that will be your wife and loved ones.
First, the Army has done some good stuff with this. Their programs are allot better now than they were. Here's a link to their battlemind training: https://www.resilience.army.mil/ You will get this several times as part of the redep process, but it might be helpful to forward to your wife.
The others hit allot of good points above. Take it slow, think an extra second or two before you act/talk, communicate allot.
Pay attention to the reintegration training on the way back. It's easy to say "That won't happen to me," "That won't be us," etc. It may not. You may be very fortunate and your reintegration will go smoothly, but just be aware of what can happen so you are both ready for it.
For me, the first time I deployed (Afghanistan 03-04) coming home and reuniting with the wife was like coming back out of weeklong field problem. I think it was easier because my wife spent my deployment in grad school with no job, basically living as a well funded college student. I had a little hyper vigilance (nothing like waking up in the middle of the night, reaching over for a weapon that isn't there and getting that "Holy crap, where's my weapon" feeling), but it faded and the wife barely noticed anything.
The last time (Iraq 08-09) was a lot more difficult redeployment. Part of this was the fact that we had a kid and the wife had a full time job and, therefore, allot more stress/responsibility without me home. Lessons learned: Take it slow, think an extra second or two before you act/talk, communicate allot.
If you have kids, don't be surprised if they are really excited when you get home, then want nothing to do with you the next day, especially if they are very young. I left an 18 month old and came home to a three year old. I've talked to several friends with kids the same age range as mine and they all had similar experiences. I'd get home from work, and my son would literally burst into tears and go bury his face in his mother. When you get home, what they see is one more person telling them what to do, and even worse, another person taking mommy's attention. Remember that, for however long you were deployed, they owned Mommy 100%, and we all know how kids act when they have to share.
Talk to your wife ahead of time about how she's been disciplining, and what she allowed and didn't. For example, one of my rules is that he eats what's put in front of him at dinner. The first time I tried to enforce that, I found out she'd been letting him pick what to eat every night. I couldn't fault her too much, she did what she had to do to get food in his belly, by herself, at the end of a long work day. It's an example of one of the issues we had to talk about, come to an agreement on, and figure out how to transition to (he eats what's put in front of him now btw).
Last thought: Once you've been home for awhile. If things still just don't seem right, go talk to someone, either by yourself or as a family. (Remember, you don't have to disclose mental health history on your security clearance paperwork if it is related to deployment or family counseling. They changed that two years or so ago on the DF-86).
Thank you for your service, and have a safe journey home.
Thanks guys. There has been a lot of good advice. I think, ie hope, that it will like MSteve said his first redeployment went. Thanks to modern convenience, I have talked with my wife nearly every night. We are both fairly mature adults and I think that will help. I am going back to a PL position after being on staff awhile, so I will be with Soldiers again. I will be sure to watch them, and encourage them to seek help if things arent right at home.
My biggest concern is my little girls. I have one that is turning 4 right when I get back. I think she will be the one I have to earn my place with. I plan to spend a lot of time with her. When I left the other one was 2 weeks old. I wonder if she will shy away from me at first. Either way it will be nice to hold her again.
I am not overly concerned that there will be any problems. I am just really excited about going home. I will be keeping this all in my mind and keeping myself in check. Thanks guys.
I agree with the difficultly in the transitions. I was deployed twice to VN and the return was the same both times.
I found myself getting irritated about some of the smallest stuff. It wasn't small to me at the time, but in reality it was.
I saw the family arguing about which TV show to watch, I hadn't seen TV in 13 months.
Normal household noises would wake me up at night. I would get up and check out the house to make sure everything was secure.
I informed everyone if they had to wake me up to shake my feet, not my shoulders or arms. Stay away from my upper body and head when I was sleeping. Sometime they forgot and we both were surprised.
Unexpected Loud noises or strangers invading my zone of comfort.
Telling the Kids to do something and them not responding. In my mind I wasn't a stranger I was the DAD.
The wife has been in total control of the house, the kids and her life since you were away. With the communication we have today she may have asked your opinion on things while you were apart, but she made the final decision.
She and you both need some space to integrate back into being a total family again.
Your family doesn't needs to know in detail what you saw, smelt or felt while you were gone. They won't understand and you will get flustrated with the lack of understanding.
Leave the chip on your shoulder there. The old "Leave me alone, you don't understand what I have done, seen, ETC" only causes problems as they want to help they just don't know how and you can't explain it to them so they will understand.
The bottom line is be understanding. They do Love you and that is what matters the most.
Thanks for putting it on the line