Friday, July 12, 2013

Service members adjust to life after deployment if we do too

Coming Home: Service members adjust to life after deployment
Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
Thursday, July 11, 2013

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Due to a high-tempo work environment, service members face many emotional challenges while deployed. Unfortunately, many of those challenges can linger after returning home.

Marines and sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who returned from Western Pacific 12-2 deployment last month, who are working to transition to their home life, can use their experiences to strengthen family bonds and advance personal growth.

“Marines and sailors go through a wide range of emotions ranging from excitement to frustration when returning from a deployment,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Dinkins, chaplain, Command Element, 15th MEU. “It’s important to understand that these emotions are common and are to be expected.”

Dinkins emphasized that reintegration with loved ones takes time and cannot be rushed.

“During your deployment everyone has changed,” said Dinkins, who has dealt with these issues after three deployments. “With the amount of time you spend on work-ups and deployed, you may have been gone up to 14 months. In that time your spouse has had to take on new roles and close friends have changed.”

Common challenges that service members face associated with these changes are communicating, balancing new friends, sharing and negotiating control and responsibilities and feeling emotionally connected.

“As Marines, we’re trained to take control in almost everything we do,” said Sgt. Sigilfredo Garcia, small-arms technician, Command Element, 15th MEU. “It can be easy for Marines to feel like they need to do that coming home after a deployment, but it can put a lot of stress on the family.”
read more here
This is what I usually heard whenever I was trying to warn a young wife what she had to look for should her husband come home with PTSD. They told me they had enough to worry about while they were gone. They didn't want to worry about anything else.

It was hard for me to counter how they felt since I never knew what it was like to have my husband deployed. We met 10 years after he got out of the Army. By that time, he had been married for six years and was getting divorced. While I had seen the worst of what PTSD can do, I had always wished he had been helped when he got home.

Back then there were plenty of excuses for telling them to just get over it. No one was talking about it, especially veterans like his WWII Dad. Families sure weren't talking outside about what was going on. It was all a secret no one was supposed to talk about. We learned that from our parents. Family secrets stayed in the family. Back then things were so much different.

One family stepped up and started talking and a reporter printed their story, then another and another. Soon more felt they could talk about it knowing there wasn't anything to be ashamed of. We loved them. We loved them for who they were and all the good we saw in them but when PTSD started to take over, they forgot what was good about them.

I saw the worst in my husband and remember feeling alone. Then I saw the best in him come back to life. It became important to tell our story but that was way back in 2003 when few cared. It is so important today for this new generation to understand what PTSD is so they can help their veterans find their way back home again and stop pretending they will ever "get over it" so they can help them get past it instead.

Big difference. I interviewed Medal of Honor Vietnam Hero Sammy Davis. He's just about as down to earth as anyone can be. His message was that veterans are not supposed to get over it and they are supposed to talk about it. His wife Dixie fully agrees.

We need to talk too. We need to let people know that while our husbands may be different, so are our lives. Veterans are only 7% of the population so it is impossible for anyone to really understand when it seems as if everyone is just being "normal" with their own issues. They can't understand unless we explain it to them.

Here is the video of Sammy and Dixie. It is important to hear what they have to say.
We know them better than anyone else, so we need to let them know we are there for them because we love them and then remind them of why we do love them.

I understand worrying about deployment can be very hard, but it is harder to live with the regret of not doing something to help them as soon as you could. Learn about it so you can help them heal.

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