Changes can challenge a Veteran’s reintegration with their family. This may occur following a deployment or as the service member transitions from active service to civilian career. Both the family and Veteran may find difficulty in finding their place back in the family after being gone for some time. The following are suggestion for Veterans, spouses and family members.
Change is inevitable- As families, as individuals, we are always changing, growing and adapting to our circumstances. This is even more noticeable following a major life transition such as a career change, retirement or significant stressors, such as deployments. An expecting and accepting mindset is helpful for all family members to withstand and navigate changes.
Communicate- Partners and children may seem like different people, and in many ways they are. Take the time to talk as a family, discuss concerns and articulate needs and expectations. Acknowledge emotions, including anger and sadness for missed occasions and milestones.
Renegotiate- Family rules and roles may have changed over the course of the Service Member’s absence. Many spouses learn to function independently. As single parents they were responsible for finances, decisions, and child discipline. It is normal for the Veteran to feel out of place, unneeded and unsure of how they fit back into their family. Remain flexible and compromise on plans, decisions and routines.
Go Slow- It can be tempting to make up for the lost time, but moving too fast can increase stress levels for everyone. Ease into each of the relationships and become reacquainted with each other.
Veteran Connection blogs are written by ACI’s very own Clinical Specialist, Megan Hawker, MA, IMF #65325; Major, Medical Service Corps; US Army Reserves