Tips for soldiers

* Take time to listen and talk to your loved ones. Communication is the basis of a healthy, growing relationship.

* Make separate time for each child and for your spouse. Have a true “family reunion” before taking time alone with your spouse.

* Support the good things your family has done. Show pleasure and interest in how your family ha grown.

* Don’t change systems that have been working well. If your spouse has been doing the checkbook, or a teen doing some of the cooking don’t demand an immediate return to the way things were before.

* Go easy on the discipline. Don’t try to “whip things into shape.” Take some time to understand how your family has changed during separation.

* Remember that romantic conversation can make re-entering intimacy easier. When two people have been separated, it usually takes some time to become relaxed and get reacquainted sexually.

* Take a marital enrichment assessment.

* Manage your money carefully. It’s exciting to suddenly have money and places to spend it, but spending without planning usually causes trouble later.

* Do not overdo the reunion parties.

* Be prepared to make some adjustments.

* Expect others to be a little resentful. Others usually think of deployment as much more exciting than staying home–whether you think that or not.

* Realize those at home had a difficult time, too.

* Get a checkup at the local medical clinic.

Tips for Spouses or Partner

* Avoid a busy schedule. Soldiers often look forward to having fewer demands on them after deployment.

* Plan family time–it helps bring everyone back together.

* Make time to be alone and talk with your spouse or partner.

* Plan special time just for children and the returning parent to get reacquainted.

* Make adjustments slowly. Don’t expect the soldier to do things exactly as before.

* Expect unusual feelings. The soldier may be a little hurt by your success at home. This is natural-everyone likes to feel needed. Remind your spouse that he or she is still loved and needed by the family.

* Discuss the division of family chores after the initial reunion.

* Stick to your financial budget until you have had time to talk about money matters. Understand that the soldier may not remember how much money a family needs.

* Be patient in rebuilding your relationship.

Tips for Commanders

* Be familiar with the Deployment Cycle Concept Plan. ( default.asp?pageid=101f)

* Psychologically prepare soldiers for redeployment. Reunion briefings are mandatory–they can lessen the shock and stress of reunion.

* Keep unit and family readiness program personnel continually informed of the redeployment schedule, especially since delays are common in redeployment.

* Ensure soldiers complete Deployment Cycle Support tasks prior to taking leave. These include mandatory health screenings, stress counseling, critical incident sessions, sensitive items check, etc.

* Allow leisure time. Soldiers need time to relax and return to normal routines upon redeployment to their home bases. Leaders should encourage soldiers to take leave.

* Publish the leave schedule with sufficient time for soldiers and families to make plans.

* Make sure soldiers have easy access to support services from unit chaplains throughout deployment, redeployment and reunion.

* Identify single soldiers without support systems.

* Don’t expect soldiers to return to duty as though nothing has changed. Until they talk to nondeploying personnel, soldiers may not recognize how much they have changed. Other nondeploying soldiers may not understand how deploying soldiers feel upon returning. This can leave gaps of isolation and misunderstanding. Encourage unity and esprit de corps among unit members.

* Know your people and watch their behavior carefully. Encourage those who usually do not participate in support groups to seek help and comfort from others.

* Make soldiers and family members aware of such support services as mental-health professionals and chaplains.

* Identify financial concerns and provide financial training as required.

* Incidents of spouse and child abuse increase immediately before and after deployments. Monitor soldiers’ behavior for signs of anxiety or tension that may lead to the physical, emotional or sexual abuse of family members. Also be open to signs that soldiers themselves are being abused.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Soldiers Magazine

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group