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Adjusting After a Long Separation

For military families, deployment requires preparation. But so does reuniting.

Military family reunites. Photo by Fuse, Thinkstock.

Today’s guest blogger is Barbara Latta.

Military families are no strangers to long separations because of deployments. Preparing to say good-bye to a loved one requires multi-tasking, long lists and lots of tears. This can be compounded by the stress of handling day-to-day life for the spouse left behind and the pain of being away from home for the soldier.

Reuniting requires preparation also. It takes more than simply saying “hello” again. While the military member is away, sometimes home life changes.

Children and schedules may become more lax because of the added burden on the left-behind spouse. To make a smooth transition to becoming a family again, I found it helpful to keep these things in mind:

1)  Adjust the new schedule early.

Start several weeks out using the schedule you will want to keep after your loved one comes home. This is especially helpful for children, but will also benefit the spouse at home.

Children can’t be expected to suddenly change the way the household is run if it will be different after the parent returns. Getting them acclimated to a new way of doing things will make the transition smoother.

2)  Allow time to decompress.

Don’t bombard the returning veteran with long lists of things to do, fix or people to visit right away. Give them time to de-compress and rest before requiring too much of their time.

3)  Have favorite things ready.

Have some of their favorite things ready to welcome them home. Providing a favorite book, magazine, DVD or meal can help someone returning from a foreign environment feel appreciated.

4)  Be patient.

As the home-bound spouse you may have gotten used to doing things on your own. Deferring to the soldier can be an unselfish way of saying “I love you.” Even though you were just as alone as your husband or wife, they were the ones who were away from everything familiar. Compensating for that can relieve stress and keep things calm.

Welcome Home banners, balloons, and flowers are always nice too!

The main thing is to put the needs of your returning service member first. This will show them love and appreciation more than anything.


Barbara Latta is the wife of a Navy veteran and the mother of two sons who are Army and Air Force veterans. Due to deployments and DOD jobs, she and her husband spent almost 10 years apart sprinkled with two- and three-week reunions.

She and her now-at-home husband spend weekends riding their Harley. Their journeys became the inspiration for her blog, “Navigating Life’s Curves.” 

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