The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has published a useful support guide for service members returning home from war and for the families who love them.
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Help for Servicemembers Adjusting to Military Home Life After War

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Although home is a long-awaited destination for servicemembers serving overseas, reintegration to civilian life can be stressful and confusing for many military servicemembers and their families. Readjustment is a completely normal step for military members, and there are ways to make it more manageable for military families.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has published a useful support guide for service members returning home from war and for the families who love them.

The VA guide helps smooth the transition from war zone to military home life, with information on what to expect, support for adjusting, and signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

COMMON MILITARY STRESSES

Returning home from war presents unique challenges. Most returning soldiers need a few months of adjustment time before they can expect to feel at completely home again. It is normal for service members returning from war to exhibit physical manifestations of stress. These stresses may not necessarily be signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Common physical stress reactions for returning combat soldiers include: trouble sleeping, upset stomach, headaches, sweating, rapid heartbeat, existing health problems becoming intensified, shock, emotional numbing, and inability to feel happiness.

Common emotional reactions in soldiers who return home from war include: nightmares, flashbacks, anger, nervousness, guilt and self-blame, feeling shame, sadness, being easily irritated, distrust toward family and friends, or feeling hopeless about the future. These emotional reactions can lead to a number of behaviors such as avoidance, drug abuse, aggressive driving, or falling behind on personal commitments including exercise and hygiene habits.

It is important to remember that these symptoms of military stress, although intense, are temporary and normal to experience while a soldier is on the way to recovery. Seeking outside help from a professional is a sign of strength and not weakness, and counseling is advised during a difficult transitional time.

ADJUST TO MILITARY HOME LIFE

Some suggestions for picking yourself up from a rut of depression are regular sleeping and exercise patterns, pursuing creative hobbies, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, finding a balance between social and alone time, communicating with your family and partners, and creating realistic workloads.

Take advantage of the BattleMind program which also helps soldiers and their families re-connect through emotional traumas. The U.S. Army's Battlemind program addresses both the stresses of functioning in military war zones, and re-adapting when soldiers return home after deployment. Other elements of Battlemind, which was developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, make it clear that life-saving behavior on the battlefield can be dysfunctional at home or among family and educate military spouses about the psychological effects they may see in their loved ones during deployment or after they return.

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS WARNINGS

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a more serious situation that merits closer attention and professional support. Some behavioral patterns can manifest into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder if they persist for many months, for example frequent and intense relationship troubles, inability to function in school or work, or thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a treatable condition. If you or someone you love exhibits these symptoms, seek help at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Medical centers, or Veteran Centers re-adjustment counseling programs.

For more information, download the guide to support returning soldiers issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.



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