Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homecoming Preparation Between Deployments

There are many useful articles and some books published on preparing for a servicemember's homecoming.  I recommend any articles or resources put out by Military OneSource.  I found These Boots (and audio CD) by Jacey Eckhart to be a great resource for a female military spouse.  Most resources from Military OneSource are free to family members of a servicemember.  Also talk with your FRG (family readiness group) and Ombudsman.  Ombudsmen receive special training and a huge book of resources to prepare for homecoming.

I will list more resources I have found useful at the end of this post. 
The theme everything comes down to for homecoming advice is this:  communication.  Communicate with your spouse all the expectations each of you has for homecoming and the weeks and (sometimes) months following.  Do not be vague.

I like how Bridget Cantrell, PhD, says it in her book, Souls Under Siege,
"For the Warrior:  When, or before, you get home, communicate to your loved ones your desire and need to spend time working out, studying tactics, upgrading your gear, or whatever else you do to maintain readiness.  Let them know ahead of time that you need to keep yourself ready to be a warrior once again in the future, and that you need time with your comrades.  What you are doing is showing your loved ones and friends that you care about them, and you are giving them notice not only that you will be doing this, but that it also generally does not include them.  This is a courteous gesture and will be much appreciated.  As difficult as it may be, you must also keep in mind how spending most of your free time away from your family will affect your relationship.

"For the loved one(s):  Practice your own form of readiness.  Do your homework and find out as much as you can about how a warrior stays ready.  When your warrior gets home, communicate to them that you know they have the need and desire to stay fit and ready to return to military duty.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help them come up with a good schedule and strike a reasonable balance between readiness time and family time.  By creating this balance, you will come to a healthy meeting of the minds and avoid many hardships and misunderstandings that can happen between deployments.  For the adventurous spouse or child, perhaps even asking to work out with your warrior from time to time could be both fun and bonding.  (It is amazing how many of these troops enjoy showing others what they have learned to stay in shape and survive while on military duty.)  They objective is to respect each other and find a mutually comfortable way to nourish your relationship as well as your individual pursuits."--Souls Under Siege


Resources for Spouse and Dependents of Servicemember
Military OneSource has lots of information on homecoming, deployment, and transitions
FOCUS project
Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program for Reserve and National Guard
OASIS program at Naval Medical Center San Diego
Chaplain
Ombudsman
Family Readiness Groups and Army Family Resource Center
These Boots by Jacey Eckhart, an audio CD available through Military OneSource

Books:
Easy to read and understand:
Down Range:  to Iraq and Back by Bridget Cantrell, PhD and Chuck Dean
Once a Warrior:  Wired for Life by Bridget Cantrell, PhD and Chuck Dean
Souls Under Siege:  the effects of multiple troop deployments and how to weather the storm by Bridget Cantrell, PhD

Resources for Family Members and Extended Family of Servicemember or Veteran
This includes brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and so on
You do not have access to Military OneSource resources and probably do not have access to resources on base.  I recommend these books to give you an idea of what your servicemember goes through with reintegration:

Down Range: to Iraq and Back by Bridget Cantrell, PhD and Chuck Dean
Once a Warrior: Wired for Life by Bridget Cantrell, PhD and Chuck Dean
Souls Under Siege: the effects of multiple troop deployments and how to weather the storm by Bridget Cantrell, PhD


Resources for the Health Care Provider
Whether or not you prefer scholarly books, the following by Cantrell and Dean are the best and most accessible resources and a great reality check for how things really work with most servicemembers and their families in today's military.
Down Range: to Iraq and Back by Bridget Cantrell, PhD and Chuck Dean
Once a Warrior: Wired for Life by Bridget Cantrell, PhD and Chuck Dean
Souls Under Siege: the effects of multiple troop deployments and how to weather the storm by Bridget Cantrell, PhD

For the more scholarly minded:
Combat Stress Injury:  Theory, Research, and Management edited by Charles R. Figley and William P. Nash
Early Intervention for Trauma and Traumatic Loss edited by Brett T. Litz
Strengthening Family Resilience by Froma Walsh
Moving a Nation to Care:  Post-traumatic stress disorder and America's Returning Troops by Ilona Meagher

If you are interested in courses, I highly recommend the "Combat Operational Stress Control" courses the Navy Chaplain Corps has sponsored in the past few years.

If you having some training in acupuncture as a physician who did a short course or if you are a detox specialist or a fully-trained and national board certified Practitioner of Acupuncture and/or Oriental Medicine, look into the Military Stress Recovery Project through Acupuncturists without Borders.  The MSRP clinics are not full-treatment traditional acupuncture practices.  The MSRP clinics use the simple 5 needle auricular (ear) protocol that is taught to detox specialists.  For a Military Stress Recovery Project near you, check out the website.  If you want to set up your own MSRP clinic for treating veterans, check out the training and information through Acupuncturists without Borders.


--Megan Kingsley Gale, EAMP/L.Ac., Dipl. OM
East Asian Medicine Practitioner/Licensed Acupuncturist
Nationally Board Certified in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)
Military wife
Health care provider to veterans and servicemembers

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