Those of us who’ve never served in the military, who’ve never spent a year or two away from home, family and friends, can have a difficult time understanding the immediate and long-term effects of such a separation.
The soldier endures the stress and risks inherent in military life, especially in a combat zone. Meanwhile, the loved ones back home try to maintain some sense of “normalcy,” despite the fact that there’s nothing normal about having Mom, Dad or a beloved son or daughter halfway around the world, facing sniper fire and/or roadside bombs.
But families adjust. The kids make it to school and soccer practice. Holidays come and go. Birthdays, too. Homework gets done. Routines develop, even as the calendar counts down the days until the family will once again be “whole.”
More than 2,000 Minnesota families are looking ahead to May, when members of the Minnesota National Guard currently deployed in Kuwait are expected to come home. There will be tearful reunions across the state, with media of all types capturing the excitement of children running to greet their long-absent parent. And with good reason. No matter how often we’ve seen soldiers return, these reunions are poignant and touching. If you’re not moved by these homecomings, then you’re not paying attention.
But a few days later, after the spotlight has faded and the jubilation has waned, the hard work of adjusting to civilian life begins in earnest.
The “getting reacquainted” process isn’t always easy. A year is a long time, and people change. Furthermore, some soldiers don’t have jobs waiting for them when they get home, and financial worries only increase their stress. They’ve gone from an environment in which they served a very specific, important role, into an environment where they can feel unneeded, like they have no reason to get up in the morning.
— The Post-Bulletin of Rochester