MIRECC / CoE
VISN 6 > Clinical > After Deployment and Veterans Families
Opportunities to support veterans and their families occur in varied settings. We have partnered with local, state and national agencies and systems of care to engage veterans and their families in an effort to provide assistance with post-deployment readjustment and access to health care. By creating a "No Wrong Door" public health approach, educational materials are disseminated and access to informed clinical care is enhanced.
You’ve just heard that you are heading home! This is a happy time that may also be mixed with conflicting emotions and possibly some worry.
Your family found a new balance while you were away, creating a new challenge when you return. Each family member has coped with new experiences, both good and bad. Each person has had to learn and adjust. Homecoming can be a time of great excitement but it can also result in frustration and let down because of unmet, unrealistic fantasies about reunion and returning to “normal life”.
* Try to stand in each other’s shoes.
* Recognize that everybody in the family has had to make adjustments and that each of you is making new adjustments now.
* Act on your shared sense of purpose:
* Find ways to have fun and relax as a family:
* Work together to thank those who helped out during the deployment:
* Give yourself and everyone else some time to adjust
Is needing help a sign of weakness?
NO! Recognizing the need for help - and seeking out that help - is a sign of wisdom. When any of us starts something new, whether in sports, work, music, art, carpentry or computers, we can all benefit from experience "coaches", from other eyes, hands and minds that help shape what we are doing in developing our new skills. Everyone who deploys does through extensive training prior to deployment to develop and hone the skills needed during the deployment, yet somehow it seems each person is supposed to figure out how to readjust to the civilian world on their own. It just "feels funny" to ask for help. It may feel funny but it is the smart thing to do - and something almost everyone returning from the combat zone can benefit from.
While you were overseas, you needed to sleep with a weapon close at hand with one eye open and stay constantly on guard. This was necessary for personal safety and for the success of the mission. The mind and body “ramp up” quickly to get ready for potential threats but it can take weeks to settle back down. The good news is that most service members are able to transition back to their normal roles at home, work and in society. Everyone goes through readjustment to civilian life, and about 1 service member in 7 returning from a deployment may need help with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
If one or more of these warning signs lasts for a month or more or if any of them lead to serious trouble with work or at home, there is likely a need for additional help:
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Being on edge, easily startled or overly alert
- Feeling irritable, easily agitated, angry or resentful
- Acts of violence- even if aimed at things rather than people
- Depressed mood, sadness or low energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide
- Feeling “scattered”, unable to focus
- Feeling “numb” or withdrawn and disconnected from others
- Increased use of alcohol or other substances
- Danger of job loss or family breakup
So who can you see? Where can you go? Here are some suggestions:
- Your local Vet Center
- Local pastors
- Family counselors
- Peer-run support groups
- Your primary care provider
- Your local VA
Get Immediate Help
A relatively small number of returning service members may express a wish to hurt themselves or others. He/she may also become physically, emotionally or sexually abusive. These are emergency situations. The safety of all involved is more important than anything else. Don't hesitate to call 911 or to take other emergency action. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).