Depending on the need, military deployments can be as long as 18 months or as short as 3. Regardless of the length of time, the homecoming far outweighs the sacrifices and adjustments that are required of the spouse left stateside.
Some spouses go to great lengths to make their return memorable and exciting, while others are low-key in their welcoming them back. Whether extravagant or ordinary there are things to keep in mind prior to their arrival.
1. Time Changes-Depending on the country, there could be 8 hours time difference, so it’s important to keep that in mind when planning any activities in the days following arrival.
2. Jet Lag-If deployed to the Middle East the flight time can be up to 15 hours. Traveling that length of time is wearing on the mind and body. Although the excitement of the arrival can prompt a desire to go and celebrate, they may be too tired to do so.
3. Sleeping/Resting-Due to time changes, jet lag, and adjusting to a new environment, it will take time for a normal sleeping schedule to be established. Remember, while in the U.S. although it’s nighttime here, it’s daytime in the area they just came from. It may take a few weeks for the sleeping pattern to go back to normal.
4. Eating Habits-Being in a foreign country gives the opportunity to try new foods and having been away for a while they have changed their eating habits and some may not want to eat the way they once did so their calorie intake has been adjusted.
Not only is the military member trying to adjust, the families are also trying to do the same thing. Keeping the following in mind may prove to be beneficial.
1. Understanding-Their routine while on deployment greatly differs from what they are used to state side. It’s important to understand that their transition may not be as quick as ours is. Our world in the states hasn’t changed too much. But they were completely uprooted from the norm and had to follow a different schedule while away. Being mindful of this is extremely important.
2. Expectations- While a spouse is away responsibilities are no longer shared. They are handled solely by the person left here in the states. This will probably remain the same for a little while depending on the time the military member needs to adjust.
3. Encourage Rest- Being an encouragement is a really important part of being a military spouse, especially during a deployment. However it shouldn’t stop when they come home. Encouragement should be given in other areas as well, such as encouraging a nap, alone time, relaxation and quiet time, or giving them a day just to unwind.
Because our Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors sacrifice their time for our country and go above and beyond the call, their families should do all they can to make their homecoming a pleasant experience. Offering patience, understanding, and love, without pressure can foster a smooth transition when returning from a deployment.