Service member running with son.

Life After Deployment

Life after deployment: seven tips for reconnecting

Deployment's done. Homecoming's over. Now comes the reality of being back. Establishing the new normal isn't always easy, but a lot of military families have used these proven techniques to help "post-deployment reintegration" run a little smoother.

  1. First thing, relax.  Be patient. Nobody has to live up to perfect. Returning spouses often feel out of sync with the family, unsure about how days are supposed to go and are easily overwhelmed. This feeling can take days, even months after homecoming to work itself out.
  2. Keep calm and communicate on. Someone returning from deployment can be tired and disoriented. Expecting them to step back into things immediately can lead to a short fuse for everyone in the family. If the deployed spouse needs time alone, grant it. Everybody needs to respect and communicate with each other.
  3. Got kids? Get prepared. Your family may have to get to know each other all over again. If you have children, you could experience anything from toddler tantrums to teen attitude. Kids are forever testing parents and challenging authority. So be patient. This is normal. Try to spend one-on-one time with each child—and talk, talk and talk some more.
  4. Stay positive. You can't go wrong with focusing on the positive. No one can understand what happened on deployment—and no one can know how hard it was to keep things together at home. But everyone wants to be appreciated. Look at what your spouse is doing right and try not to criticize. Tell your loved one you're proud of what they accomplished and how well they managed.
  5. Make a little time for everyone. If you're the spouse of the deployed person, be prepared. Everybody will want some of your spouse's time—kids, parents, family members, friends, neighbors. Remember, they've missed your spouse, just like you have. Understand that this is going to happen and make room for it. (But make sure you get your time together too.)
  6. Watch the money. It's easy to go off the rails during celebrations because everybody's been waiting so long for this moment. Try to stay on track with your budget. Once the family's settled in, think about re-examining your finances now that you don't have that extra deployment pay. Military OneSource has financial counselors available.
  7. Know when to ask for help. Coming home can bring major emotional stresses. Remember, someone is always available who knows the ups and downs of deployment. If you or a member of your family is struggling to adjust, get free confidential support anytime from Military OneSource.

You can also contact your installation's Military and Family Support Center, Defense Centers of Excellence at 866-966-1020, or the Department of Veterans Affairs at 800-905-4675 EST (866-496-8838 PST). The Real Warriors website also offers additional support.