One of the hardest things about being homesick, is the feeling of being trapped between a rock and a hard place. On one hand you want to start your new life in the military, but on the other, you miss your family and friends back home. The initial excitement is wearing off and the realities of a service member's life are setting in.
Life can be rough, even more so, when you have to deal with other worrisome issues and problems. Sad experiences like a recent death of a loved one, handling your own finances for the first time, and looming deployments can magnify this state of depression.
Homesickness can cause you to feel sad, scared and lonely, as well as make your body feel physically sick. Headaches and stomachaches are very commonly associated with being homesick.
Homesickness is quite common my friend. There are 3 times that I can personally remember experiencing this in the military. The first time is when I initially joined and went to the Fort Jackon Reception Station. Long hours of waiting for the inevitable. Of which I knew nothing about. Part of the fire guards' duty is to watch out for possible suicidal individuals, which can paint the picture of the mood during sleeping hours. I listened to music and wrote in a journal and read my bible.
South Korea was my first duty station and although it's my favorite one, I got sick with it there. One Saturday morning I woke up expecting to be in my room back in New York. I was incredibly disappointed and this triggered a pity party like no other. I soon got over it because I really loved it in the "Land of the Morning Calm." My unit was small and being overseas draws people together closer than military posts on the mainland. The shopping and food definitely helped lift my spirits as well.
The third time is when I went to Iraq with a unit I didn't usually report to. Awkward. Didn't know any of their inside jokes or personality traits of the soldiers I went with as well as the ones we met up with once we were there. I watched a lot of movies, read my bible and plucked the shizness out my brows. I not only missed back home, I also missed my unit who I now looked back on with terms of endearment.
Even though this type of struggle is common, it still hurts a lot. It helps when you think about what you are specifically missing, for example, your mom’s cooking. Your old familiar routines and/or moments you shared with close friends might be it. You do need to come to terms that you are not home anymore and allow yourself some time to grieve the loss you are experiencing. You made this decision so you can have certain opportunities that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Ways to combat these sad feelings:
- Think back to other transitional periods in your life. Although they seemed hard at first, you got through it and grew as a person. Embrace this time to learn new skills, meet new people, and become a better person.
- Stay in touch with your family and friends back home. Whether its talking on the phone, video chatting, texting, emailing, or even writing a letter through postal mail. Maintain your relationships so you can vent, share new experiences, and plan events that you can attend while you’re on leave.
- Take pictures of your favorite hangouts, friends, family, and pets the next time you go home. If you can’t visit home any time soon, have someone send you some pictures or email them to you.
- Keep yourself busy and join in on the recreational or fundraising activities they have available at your unit. You can occupy yourself while getting acquainted with your fellow soldiers.
- Talk to someone about it. Plenty of service members go through this adjustment period. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to any of your peers, you can always ask to speak with a chaplain.