How to Treat Returning Military Service Members
Welcoming A Veteran Home
When you have a friend or family member returning from an overseas deployment, needs and expectations from both sides vary. Because every individual and situation is different, I will draw from my own experience as a returning veteran, comments I've heard from other veterans, and what I've read.
First of all, it's difficult to express the experience of deployment. If there had been plenty of honest, heartfelt, and positive communication with those left behind during the deployment, reintegration should be smoother. However, patience, education, and understanding are vital in every situation. Being separated for an entire year from the life you know in a country you don't know is a huge adjustment. Therefore, it seems that returning would be a lovely, happy reunion! Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
But please don't give up; veterans need your care!
One way you can demonstrate care is to try to understand as much as possible. Moving through different worlds has a psychological impact on service members. Things are done a certain way--a very different way--in a warzone than how life is lived in a civilian world. This abrupt change in demands is stressful. Managing changes in where things go and how things are done is a frustrating experience and can diminish a veteran's sense of self-competence. When so few people are grateful or act as if the sacrifice you've made has done nothing for the freedom they enjoy, their sense of competence is aggravated.
Hair Cuts Behind "T Wall" at BIAP
Care Enough to Learn
Educating yourself on all the things your veteran friend had to give up (privacy, ice, first world bathroom conditions, weekends off, comfort, choices, safety, familiar social rules, traditional holiday celebrations, the usual means of social support, any control over things affecting home, loved ones' voices and hugs) for an extended period of time.
Iraq--A Home Away From Home for a Period
Little Luxury when Deployed (Camp Victory)
When the Time is Right
It took me almost a year before I was ready to share all the photos I took while I was in Iraq. I think because I just wanted to soak home in. I'm not sure my loved ones are interested in my photos yet. They may feel angry because I left. My deployment may remind them of my absence. But because the lack of connection is what makes the whole process of deploying and returning (which means again leaving a familiar place and people during a significant time) so lonely, I think this is important.
FOB Prosperity "Free" Time
Share Your Feelings, Not Your Politics
With a recently returning veteran, especially, refrain from sharing your media-based political view, unless they've indicated their interest in your opinion. Instead, ask them about their first-hand experience, and be willing to hear their point of view. There is much to process, and talking may help.
Most importantly, kindly and respectfully share feelings. What did it feel like for someone you cared for to be away? What did it feel like for the veteran to be away from you? How did both of you feel about the communication and contact with each other during deployment? What do both of you want now?
With Iraq Officer
Remember Their Loss
A veteran may feel angry about the extensive time lost with loved ones. As a result, there may be a change in priorities after deployment. A priority change may also result from the fact that material comforts will probably seem excessive once the service member returns home. In addition, they may have seen or experienced some painful things while deployed.
Burka Barbie for sale Iraq
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Taken from a humvee while in Iraq by Donna Hickman
Mercy Me "Finally Home" video
More about Relationships
Thank you so much for reading this.
My blog, "Random Epiphanies" is about love.
Check it out at http://bootstrapsreflections.blogspot.com
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