It’s a bit of an open secret: for the service member coming home after being deployed, there are some very difficult obstacles to overcome. They’re not alone, either. The family to which a service member is returning has also changed patterns, and this can lead to conflicts between family members.
Imagine getting things set up at home – functioning in a way you’re used to – and coming back to find everything different; and for good reason. Traffic patterns have changed, some shops have closed while others have opened, schools are undergoing construction, teachers come and go, and even religious institutions can change leadership.
All these factors affect the home and daily patterns of life. A change in religious leadership could lead to a change in denominations or chapels, giving the Sunday morning “hustle” a different flavour. Children may be in different grades and form friendships with other children, leading your family to become close with another.
This is generally fine, but a man of the house who has been away may return to find that social activities like playdates have changed the dynamics of his home, making him feel as though his domain has been invaded. It hasn’t, but it feels that way, leading to psychological tension and subsequent disagreements between spouses. Certainly, these things are all hypothetical, but they are significant and well within the bounds of possibility.
Homecoming difficulties come from multiple sources
All these factors represent normal homecoming difficulties. They haven’t taken into account the psychological damage which can and often does occur on the battlefield. This can lead to PTSD, which is especially strenuous on households. Returning veterans may have many difficulties to deal with.
First, assess the current state of your home life and understand the emotional and psychological well-being of your returning veteran. If you can identify psychological issues, you can seek the help of a qualified psychologist or other therapeutic professional.
Therapists may suggest a range of treatment options, from cognitive behavioural therapy to medication. Sometimes there are lucid dreaming solutions, like those endorsed by Taileaters, which may act in a therapeutic way for your returning military man. Sometimes a hobby, a project, or some other recurring duty may be key.
Even though certain aspects of a given home and its associated routines may have changed upon the return of a deployed soldier, and this reality may be understood, it can still be a tough pill to swallow. It may feel to the returning veteran that he is under-appreciated by the family he’s been supporting by putting his life on the line.
Those at home can help him by making a gesture that shows how much love truly exists. For example, a family might go to Embleholics and have a challenge coin made specifically for the returning veteran. Following through on a gesture of this kind says that, even though things aren’t quite how they were before, the love is still there.
Remember what is truly important
What’s important to remember is that there will always be things that go unexpectedly right and unexpectedly wrong. Basically, you can’t predict the future; all you have is the “now”. When a veteran returns home, they’ve lost friends, aspects of their innocence, and several years of their lives; but if they return uninjured, that’s a blessing.
If they return injured, it’s still a blessing; even if their personality has shifted. The military puts the lives of its members at risk on a regular basis, and this becomes increasingly true when conflict arises. Remember that your family member, friend, or spouse is alive, and this means there’s hope.
Things may have changed, but it’s important to remember that not all is lost. If you understand this before the homecoming transpires, you’ll be better equipped to handle this often difficult transition.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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