As 40,000 U.S. military troops return home from war, the soldiers have many challenges with reintegration from jobs to dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, the military divorce rate has grown 42 percent since the start of the Afghan-Iraq wars began in 2001, according to Fox News.
In First Kiss to Lasting Bliss, I wrote about one couple (The Stoners) who experienced a year-long Iraq deployment and the resulting challenges that ensued. Thanks in part to an extremely supportive community and family, they maintained a strong marriage after the deployment and despite the challenges of reintegrating, which included changing roles for the parents and reconnecting with the four children. The book includes many tips for helping with military separations and reintegrations, but today’s post is really about how we can support these military families.
Thousands of soldiers have endured more than one deployment with several years of separation from spouses and children. As they and others have attested, the happy reunions are buttressed with struggles. Dennis Rainey, CEO of FamilyLife, has written about how the anticipation and happiness of coming home is generally followed by a brief honeymoon period, but that the 90 days following are crucial for these military families.
“The most common pitfalls during this post-deployment period include maintaining unrealistic expectations, rushing the transition, renegotiating roles, and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Rainey. These couples need resources and support to help during the transition period.
If you know a military couple, offer to help in a tangible way, such as with babysitting, meals, yard work, assisting with a job search, or offering a supportive ear. If you don’t know of a military family to help, visit FinallyHometoFamily.org.
I would like to personally thank the soldiers or family members reading this for their service and sacrifice. It is my hope that our nation will welcome troops home with grace and generosity, and that we will all assist their families experience through a difficult transition.
Not all soldiers will come home in perfect health, unfortunately. A friend recently sent me a video of a police officer who was shot in the line of duty and how that has affected his family. It’s worth watching, and his recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Those who protect our nation both inside and outside of the U.S. deserve our support and encouragement.
Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope and Inspiration for your Marriage, available in print, Kindle, Nook, iBook, Sony and PDF versions.