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Having a family member return home from deployment is one of the most amazing feelings, and a day you’ll never forget. A military homecoming can mean a lot of emotions — from happiness to anxiety, and everything in between. These are all normal, natural feelings to have, and the key is to not let your emotions take over the situation.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction states that military families (especially those with children) experiences three major stages of a homecoming: anticipation, readjustment, and stabilization. These military homecoming tips will help guide you through those stages, as you anticipate your loved one’s arrival, readjust to their presence, and acclimate to their return and a new routine.
Have A Gameplan
There are many elements to preparing for a military arrival, which is why it’s so important to have a gameplan ready. This involves communicating with the military member about arrival times, preferences, and pickup location. The more you communicate, the more smoothly everything will go when it’s time to meet them. Don’t stress too much about sticking to a schedule; travel plans can change on a whim, and being able to quickly adjust is key.
There are different types of homecomings, and you should go with the one that works best for the military member. For example, a Quiet Homecoming involves a two-prong approach to a return home that involves only immediate family at first, with a second part that then involves reintroducing the military member to extended family and community.
At the end of the day, it all depends on what the military member prefers. Some will request downtime and a slow introduction into being surrounded by people, while others will want a family barbecue and party-like atmosphere.
Inspiration helps many people get the fuel they need to start planning a homecoming and thinking on the positive side. For example, take a look at this video compilation of military homecomings. Yes, it’s a tear-jerker — but it will help you realize that all the pressure you might feel as you organize a homecoming will just result in love and happiness. For an extensive list of homecoming videos, check out the Welcome Home Blog, which frequently posts videos of military homecomings.
Avoid leaning too heavily on expectations based on online videos. Remember, this is merely a guide to help you start planning and putting those plans into motion. If you’re planning a homecoming party or event, you should also take a look at military homecoming decoration and event ideas. Military.com suggests using Build A Sign to order custom banner and welcome home signs for your special occasion, but it all depends on your budget and personal preferences.
Use A Support System
There are many systems in place that cater to military family and friends. Use these support systems to your advantage. Various organizations cater to different branches of the military, and every state has a Family Assistance Center (FAC) that provides appropriate outreach services. Operation Child Care is just one of many programs in place to help parents find quality youth services and childcare.
Lastly, there are hundreds of organized meetups across the country who use Meetup.com as a starting platform. Military family members should attend those meetings to gain the support of other local military family members who are in similar positions and can provide valuable advice.
Get The Children Ready
Children in the family should be properly prepared for a military homecoming. Whether it’s their father, uncle, sister, or aunt, they need to have a thorough understanding of what’s happening in their lives. A homecoming can mean a major shift in the homes of many military children and families, and it’s important that you prepare to make the transition as seamless as possible.
While every parent explains the military to their own children and children in the family differently, it’s important to explain the military member’s return and ensure it lines up with the explanation you gave the children during the initial departure. It’s also critical that you explain it may take time for the military member to get adjusted to being back home. Ask them for their help during this time; children like to feel needed and rewarded for their responsibility.
Talk to the military member about any rules or routines that have been put into place since their deployment to ensure that the change isn’t too stark for the children. You’ll want your home and family life to resume as normal, so it’s important to keep things as neutral as possible.