The Guide to Coming Home

The Guide to Coming Home: February 3, 2010 Archive

Your future is in your hands

Posted at 1:07 PM on February 3, 2010 (0 Comments)
Filed under: Accessing benefits, Employment, Family & relationships, Mental Health

From B Jones, Laurel, MD
E-5 (Sergeant), Army, 98G Arabic Linguist. Served from 1999 to 2005. Stationed with the 1st Infantry Division in Wuerzburg, Germany. Deployed to Kosovo in 2002 and to Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005, served in Tikrit, Baqubah and Samarrah.

Welcome back from a deployment, possibly getting out of the military. My first tip would be to tell you to take control for/of yourself!!! The military has many different programs to help you out but they won't do anything for you if you don't take matters into your own hands.

Second, while you were gone both you and your friends/family have had unique and individual experiences. Things are going to be different whether you want them to be or not. Realize this and give yourself, your spouse, and your friends and family each time to get reacquainted. It took my wife and I months to get back to normal. She wanted to hug me and hold me every single moment we were awake and together. I just wanted to be left alone. After all, I hadn't really had much physical contact for a year. It took a great deal of communication for us to make it through that. She felt I was rejecting her and I felt she wasn't respecting my space. We are still together and now have a baby boy.

Third, it is never too early to start looking for a job if you are planning to get out of the military. Most jobs will work with you on your availability. Your military service goes a long way with most employers, use it to your advantage. It doesn't matter what job you had while you were in. Your military service will help with just about any job you apply for.

You volunteered for the military. They used you as a resource during that time. Take advantage of all the resources the military is giving you access to and use their resources to your advantage. This could be counseling, medical, resume writing, GI Bill. It is your turn to use the military how you see fit.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. You may not want to talk about things right away but plan on doing it at some point. Share your feelings, experiences, doubts, whatever with someone you trust. If you have a spouse they may really appreciate you talking to them and explaining what you are feeling and thinking.

Take pride in your service, regardless of how you feel about the war. You did your country and other countries in this world a service. There are so many people who don't have the courage to do what you did.

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Ask questions

Posted at 1:56 PM on February 3, 2010 (0 Comments)
Filed under: Accessing benefits, Family & relationships, Mental Health

From Randal Lundborg, Duluth, MN
Retired Staff Sergeant, deployed as a medic with the Army Reserves from Dec 2003 to Feb 2005. Served at Abu Ghraib, Najaf, Baghdad and Fallujah

When you first get back, take life at your speed for a bit. It's ok to not want to accept every invitation. Ease yourself back into your old life. Get to know your family again. Remember, your family isn't in the military -- ask, don't order. If you have kids, ask open questions and let them ramble on and ask questions. Real listening is a skill that you haven't used in a long time.

randylundborg.jpegUnderstand things will be different. Not bad, just different. It takes time to get back into the role of "Dad" or "Mom," don't rush it. Decompressing takes time. Ask questions, you will react differently to different things.If that response makes you wonder, ask questions, if you don't know who to ask, call 888-LINK VET (546-5838).

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Take it slow--give yourself time to adjust

Posted at 4:21 PM on February 3, 2010 (0 Comments)
Filed under: Accessing benefits, Education, Employment

From Bruce Holzschuh, St. Paul, MN
Coordinator of Veterans Services at Metropolitan State University. BU1 US Navy Seabees. Discharged 1994.

Acknowledge that everyone has changed somewhat over the time away. Accept the fact that changes happened, and it is not always negative. Give each other time to adjust to being back and with each other again. Try and be very patient and understanding. Be vigilant to early signs of potential or underlying problems and do not be afraid to seek professional help and advice.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Trust your gut---if you sense something is not right, it most often isn't. Don't wait for a problem to get so big that it is hard or impossible to recover from. Try and visualize where you see or want to see yourself 5 years from now. What will it take to get there?

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What's normal?

Posted at 4:34 PM on February 3, 2010 (0 Comments)
Filed under: Accessing benefits, Community, Mental Health

From Jennifer Rico, St. Paul, MN
CW2, Army National Guard, Medevac pilot. Iraq (Aug 2008-2009)

There's still a stigma that trying to find help means that your relationship isn't strong or that you have "problems" that warrant professional help. Maybe all you want are some quick answers about basic everyday issues and don't know who to talk to. Or maybe some things come up that you weren't expecting and you don't know if they're normal or if you should be getting worried.

If there isn't PTSD or a substance abuse issue, then it doesn't really seem like there are any programs out there for you. However, the VA and many other veteran's organizations have been set in place to answer even the most seemingly insignificant questions, so don't be afraid to contact them.

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