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Readjusting When Your Soldier Returns Home

written by Jennifer See
on December 17, 2010

After five deployments in six years, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the post-deployment readjustment period. Of course, any time apart by any couple will have a period of re-acclimation. For military folks, it's become a common occurrence, one as common as moving and unpacking.

Every time my husband returns home, it's a bit of an adjustment on both of our parts, but luckily for us, eventually we fall right into the natural step of things.

But that period of adjustment varies. Sometimes, it's the noise level and hustle and bustle of the kids that is hard for my husband to get used to. For me, it's often the "this-is-how-we-do-things-now, I-control-all" mode I get into, after handling everything from minor repairs to homework and kid meltdowns, solo.

Expectations are high, on both ends, and sometimes, you just need to meet in the middle.

For many military couples, things get much harder each time. Reports of PTSD in the military are at an all-time high. Marriages are breaking up in record numbers. Reports of the war stressors on kids are showing that military kids are having a tough time dealing with one or more parents being gone for long periods of time.

I remember meeting a military spouse for coffee once after her husband, who happened to be deployed with mine, got home. It was my husband's first deployment, and we were in the giddy-with-happiness-that-he-was-back phase. This was not my friend's first deployment. While we sipped our drinks she began telling me, in bits and pieces, that things were not going well on the homefront. Her husband was volatile. Snapping at her. Snapping at the kids. During one particular fight, he took a swing at her and missed.

She told me all of this with her eyes in her coffee cup, in a quiet voice. I told her if she was worried about her safety, she needed to leave. He needed help, and she needed to go talk with someone, and quick.

Her calls to me became far and few between. I heard through the grapevine that they PCSed somewhere. To this day, I'm not sure if they made it through that deployment or the next one.

I think about this girl often, and all military couples I know, as the war continues to rage on. After I receive my Master's in Counseling, I hope to work with such military families. Because I have walked in their shoes, I know how difficult the periods before, during and after a deployment can be on a family.

These wars are long and being fought hard, and the reality is that there is much more work to be done, long after boots arrive safe and sound at home.

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