Sign up for the Spouse & Family Newsletter

Most Popular Spouse Articles

Related Spouse Articles

Military Life 101

  • job fair
    Military Spouse Employment 101
    While the military will always throw a monkey wrench in any best-laid plans, your career doesn't have to be one of them.
  • (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)
    Military Spouse Education Help 101
    Good news for you: Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier.
  • (Photo: U.S. Navy)
    Military Life 101
    Military life has a lot of nuts and bolts. You know, the little things that make up just an ordinary day.
  • stack of one dollar bills
    Military Spouse and Family Benefits 101
    Don't know exactly how to get your military spouse and family benefits or want to know more about what they are? Read on.
  • Movers at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, load up a truck with household goods. Jose Ramirez/Air Force
    Military Spouse and Family Moves 101
    Whether you're an old pro or new to the military moving game, there's stuff to learn about PCSing. Here's our easy PCS 101 guide.
  • (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)
    Military Family Deployment 101
    Preparing for deployment can seem like an uphill battle. But we've been there. Here's what you need to know.
  • Military family
    Military Family Life 101
    Military life is not easy, but we've got your back. From marriage to kids and parenting, we have the resources you need.

Reintegration Concerns Are Normal, Expected Part of Deployment Cycle

Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous homecoming 600x400
LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany - If you're feeling anxious about reuniting with a loved one after being deployed for 15 months, or if you've already redeployed and seem to have trouble fitting into the family routine again, there's one important factor you need to realize - what you're experiencing is normal and usually resolves itself with time.

"Every Soldier and every family is going to experience some kind of difficulty during the transition. Expect it, it's normal," said Captain Shawn Gallagher, an Army psychiatric nurse practitioner at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Insomnia is a common complaint among returning Soldiers, as well as being hyper-vigilant to noise, or showing displays of anger that are more than normal or last for a longer duration.

"While the Soldier's been away, the spouse may have become more independent," said Gallagher. "Everything he's used to has changed and he may not be sure where he fits into the family situation. But the Soldier needs to understand that that is a normal part of the post-deployment cycle. There's nothing wrong with them, but it's just something that happens and that typically improves and gets better over time."

While the spouse may have become more independent, the Soldier can become more reliant on his or her "battle buddy" and fellow Soldiers while living in a life and death environment with them 24/7 for more than a year.

When the deployment ends, the intense camaraderie ends rather suddenly. Unlike Soldiers who spent weeks together decompressing on troops ships as they returned from World War II, today's Soldiers can be flown home, receive a hero's welcome and enjoy a warm reception at home all within days of redeploying with their unit in Afghanistan or Iraq. But as many find out, said Gallagher, the honeymoon eventually ends and the reality and normalcy of day-to-day life soon resumes.

To help better ease into the transition, Gallagher said communication is the key, and to begin the discussion while still deployed. Find out how your spouse has been getting by day-to-day, and ask question about the new routine. By doing so, Gallagher said, you're letting your spouse know you recognize that adjustments have been made, but at the same time letting him or her know that you want to become part of the routine again.

"It's like when you're dating. You're starting over in some respects," Gallagher said of establishing the routines of a new life together.

And as with dating, problems can arise. Most Soldiers don't have redeployment issues that don't resolve themselves with time, but for those who do, Gallagher recommends seeking out a friend, family member, clergy or a battle buddy to discuss what you're feeling.

As for seeking professional help, Gallagher offers the following advice: "If you think it may be better to talk with someone, that's a positive sign, and that's the time to see someone - not because of psychiatric concerns but to reinforce combat stress principles and management."

And for those who do need additional help readjusting, the good news is that much of the stigma for seeking help has taken a definite positive downturn, said Captain (Dr.) Sebastian Schnellbacher, an Army psychiatrist at LRMC.

The stigma has decreased as the Army has increased its efforts to identify and resolve potential problems, said Schnellbacher, noting that Soldiers are assessed both before and after they deploy, as well as follow-up assessment months after they've returned.

For more information on predeployment, deployment and post-deployment issues for Soldiers and family members, Gallagher recommends visiting the Army's Battlemind web site.

Related Topics

Family and Spouse Deployment Reintegration from deployment

Military News App by

Download the new News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!

Featured VA Loan Articles