Presentation on theme: "PREPARING FOR HOMECOMING & REINTEGRATION"— Presentation transcript:
1PREPARING FOR HOMECOMING & REINTEGRATION YELLOW RIBBON REINTEGRATION PROGRAM’SCADRE OF SPEAKERS:Katherine R. Willson - Ann Arbor, MI
2PRESENTATION OBJECTIVES Discuss differences between “Homecoming” & Reintegrating,”Discuss common post-deployment worries & concerns,Discuss common expectations for the reunion, andDiscuss common issues experienced during re-integration.
3HOMECOMING 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 – it’s 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.
4POSTDEPLOYMENT 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 I’ve made bad decisions while s/he was gone?What if we’ve lost our deep connection?What if we don’t have anything in common any longer?Others?
5EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REUNION Expect emotions to run high – you’ve 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 – everyone’s changed.
6PREPARING 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 member’s 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?
7FIRST FEW DAYS HOMEService 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.
8FIRST FEW DAYS HOME (con’t.) Go slow for the first week or so – don’t 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 homeMOST 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 doesn’t surprise you.
9FIRST 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 they’re living with strangers – some people in the same house might be experiencing completely different emotions – this is NORMAL! Whatever you’re feeling is NORMAL.Don’t try to force things back to the way they used to be – there’s a “NEW NORMAL,” and that’s 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.
10FIRST FEW WEEKS HOME (CON’T) 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 you’re able to handle, and what you CAN’T handle.Let one another know that you’re needed, that you’re 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.
11COMMON 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 can’t take care of anyone else if you’re not taking care of yourself first.
12COMMON ISSUES DURING REINTEGRATION (CON’T) 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, there’s 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).
13DEALING 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 downTalk with a trusted loved one about how you feel, and seek professional help, if necessary (Military One Source counslingMilitary One Source’s “Living Easy - Stress Management” at
14The 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 EXISTEDPRE-DEPLOYMENT WILL STILL EXISTPOST-DEPLOYMENT!Talk about the elephant in the room – ignoring these issues makes the readjustment harder.
15SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATIONS COMMUNICATION DO’S:Allow time for discussionLocation, location, locationTime outs if necessaryFocus on what the other is sayingMaintain good eye contactHave courageCOMMUNICATION DON’TS:Don’t think about what to say nextDon’t bring up old issuesDon’t belittle the other person’s thoughtsDon’t assume you know the other person’s thoughts/feelings
16SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATIONS (CON’T) Check in with one another:How are things going now that we’re back together?What’s starting to feel normal?What are the current stressors?What roles have changed again?
17SUCCESSFUL REINTEGRATION Has reasonable expectations on both sidesMakes time for readjustmentAllows for the communication of feelingsInvolves teamworkAccepts helpSTRONGBONDS.ORGMILITARYONESOURCE.MIL
18Katherine R. Willson (Ann Arbor, MI) QUESTIONS?Katherine R. Willson (Ann Arbor, MI)