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Presentation on theme: "YELLOW RIBBON REINTEGRATION PROGRAMS CADRE OF SPEAKERS: Katherine R. Willson - Ann Arbor, MI"— Presentation transcript:


2 PRESENTATION OBJECTIVES 1. Discuss differences between Homecoming & Reintegrating, 2. Discuss common post-deployment worries & concerns, 3. Discuss common expectations for the reunion, and 4. Discuss common issues experienced during re-integration.

3 HOMECOMING VS. REINTEGRATION Homecoming is the reunion event that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Homecoming is MORE than a service member coming home – its a MAJOR & STRESSFUL event for all involved. Reintegration is the process of developing a new normal over the course of many, many months – this, too, is a MAJOR CHANGE, and even positive changes are stressful.

4 POSTDEPLOYMENT WORRIES & CONCERNS How did s/he feel about me while s/he was gone? How has s/he changed? Will s/he be happy to see me? Still accept me? Be proud of me? Need me? What if s/he thinks Ive made bad decisions while s/he was gone? What if weve lost our deep connection? What if we dont have anything in common any longer? Others?

5 EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REUNION Expect emotions to run high – youve ALL been through a challenging time! Expect mixed emotions (nervous, excited, worried, joyful, proud, jealous, glad, angry, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, frustrating, disappointing). Expect changes in your routine. Expect changes in your partner – you need to get to know one another again. DO NOT EXPECT things to be the same before deployment – everyones changed.

6 PREPARING FOR THE REUNION Let go of fantasies of how you think reunions SHOULD be - let it happen in a way that feels natural. Get the service members input on what s/he wants for a homecoming – keep it comfortable for ALL of you, NOT overwhelming. Decide together who will greet him/her at the airport – immediate family? Extended family? Friends? Media/Press? How does s/he feel about a welcome home sign? How does s/he feel about a welcome home party? How long would s/he like to wait before having it? WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR MILITARY MEMBER TO KNOW MORE THAN ANYTHING ONCE S/HE IS HOME?

7 FIRST FEW DAYS HOME Service members return home VERY tired from the mission and from the travel to get home. They need rest and time to adjust to being home, and may have irregular sleep patterns to begin with. Put the To-Do list on hold. Take it slow! Avoid over-scheduling, and avoid overwhelming activities. Mutually decide on what these first few days should look like – where do extended family & friends fit in? Be flexible, and leave room for changes in the schedule. Make sure everyone has some space of their own.

8 FIRST FEW DAYS HOME (cont.) Go slow for the first week or so – dont make big changes to your routine right away, as large or sudden changes can be overwhelming for all. Recognize that military members may become overwhelmed or experience culture shock the first time they go to a grocery store or restaurant after returning home MOST IMPORTANT - leave the first few days free to get reacquainted again. There is a natural anti-climatic let-down after the big anticipation of the homecoming. Expect it so that it doesnt surprise you.

9 FIRST FEW WEEKS HOME Your expectations have been challenged. Expect everyone to be unsure of their new role, but remind one another that everyone still has an IMPORTANT role. Renegotiate new roles, responsibilities, routines & goals. Many couples feel like theyre living with strangers – some people in the same house might be experiencing completely different emotions – this is NORMAL! Whatever youre feeling is NORMAL. Dont try to force things back to the way they used to be – theres a NEW NORMAL, and thats anything that works for YOU! There are no standard stages of reintegration – the process varies from person to person. It is NORMAL to experience days or even weeks of mild to moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety – the key is knowing when to get help.

10 FIRST FEW WEEKS HOME (CONT) Try to have regular routines, which help keep everyone on track by knowing what to expect from day-to-day. Continue to call on the same supports that helped you through deployment (parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, neighbors, community/church groups, Military One Source (free counseling). Building a close relationship takes time - talk about how much youre able to handle, and what you CANT handle. Let one another know that youre needed, that youre happy to be reunited, that it was difficult to be apart (give examples to one another). Give each other lots of encouragement and reassurance during the readjustment period.

11 COMMON ISSUES DURING REINTEGRATION Reintegration can be MORE stressful than deployment due to changes that have taken place: How have you changed? Are you more responsible & independent as a result of assuming new/additional roles? Have you discovered new interests/hobbies? Did you change your appearance? How can you take care of yourself (physically, emotionally, spiritually)? Pamper yourself! You cant take care of anyone else if youre not taking care of yourself first.

12 COMMON ISSUES DURING REINTEGRATION (CONT) How do you think your military member changed? He or she was in a new place, with new people, different food, different weather, different clothing, different friends, PLUS stressful experiences… Biggest reintegration stressor for military members is adjusting to regular life (missed friends, family, pets, personal freedom, own bedroom, own shower, own car, etc). When a military member is deployed, theres ONE person who talks and everyone else listens (no room for choices, discussion or compromises). When a family is reunited, EVERYONE talks and EVERYONE listens (with room for choices, discussion and compromises).

13 DEALING WITH STRESS Expect the expected! Patience (with self, military member & family) Keep perspective – this too shall pass Manage time with SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) Take care of yourself (healthy eating, adequate exercise, good sleep habits, making time to rest) Relaxation techniques - deep breaths, count to 10, sitting up straight & pulling shoulders down Talk with a trusted loved one about how you feel, and seek professional help, if necessary (Military One Source counsling Military One Sources Living Easy - Stress Management at

14 The best way to keep a relationship strong is to communicate. 55% of a conversation is body language. 38% of a conversation is tone of voice. 7% of a conversation are the actual words. PROBLEMS THAT EXISTED PRE-DEPLOYMENT WILL STILL EXIST POST-DEPLOYMENT! Talk about the elephant in the room – ignoring these issues makes the readjustment harder.

15 SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATIONS COMMUNICATION DOS: Allow time for discussion Location, location, location Time outs if necessary Focus on what the other is saying Maintain good eye contact Have courage COMMUNICATION DONTS: Dont think about what to say next Dont bring up old issues Dont belittle the other persons thoughts Dont assume you know the other persons thoughts/feelings

16 SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATIONS (CONT) Check in with one another: How are things going now that were back together? Whats starting to feel normal? What are the current stressors? What roles have changed again?

17 SUCCESSFUL REINTEGRATION Has reasonable expectations on both sides Makes time for readjustment Allows for the communication of feelings Involves teamwork Accepts help STRONGBONDS.ORG MILITARYONESOURCE.MIL

18 QUESTIONS? Katherine R. Willson (Ann Arbor, MI) Email:


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