When you get the long-awaited news that your deployed soldier is coming home in the upcoming days, you will most likely be filled with nervous anticipation. If you are like most military spouses, you have grown used to changes and time apart, but this may be a whole different ball game. This time apart has probably been quite a bit lengthier than you are used to and the circumstances have been less than optimal for your spouse.
They have been in a place that you can't relate to and have seen things that no one should have to, but they have done this to protect all of us. Thank God right now that they are able to come back home to you. Not every soldier and their family will be so fortunate. Now that you are one of the lucky ones, what can you do to ease the homecoming for your soldier?
*Before your soldier comes home, spend some time with other military families who have already had their homecoming. Ask what they did that worked well and helped the soldier transition and what may not have been the best idea, even if the spirit behind it was good and loving. This will help you immensely in knowing what the typical soldier wants to come home to.
*Military bases are wonderful when it comes to support and help after deployment. There are many resources that you and your soldier can take advantage of and it will help him or her if you have the information for these lined up prior to their arrival home. Wartime is difficult and there will be emotional issues that should be dealt with for both you and the soldier. Don't push too hard in the beginning, but do encourage them to get some counseling, either alone or together, in order to heal some of the wounds that aren't as obvious to the eye.
*Keep it quiet and simple
Soldiers who are coming home have spent a lot of time traveling and have probably also experienced a time change. They are going to be tired, even if they have an initial burst of adrenaline due to the excitement of being home and seeing you. The best thing for the soldier at this point is to get plenty of rest to recuperate and get back to the life that they were once accustomed to. The welcome home parties may sound like a good idea, but they are not usually what the soldier wants.
*Take some time away as a family if at all possible. Even if it's only a couple of days, go somewhere quiet where all of you can reconnect and just relax in one another's company. It might feel a bit uncomfortable initially because you aren't used to being together after so long apart, but it will all come back to you soon enough.
Patience and understanding are the two qualities that are really going to make a huge difference in your soldier's return home after deployment. Be liberal with these and you will soon be on your way back to normal life again.