July 31, 2012

Reintegration Update

It's been a while since I really wrote about reintegration but it's been on my mind a lot the last couple of days. My best friend is about to go through her husband's first deployment and I've recently written a post for a deployment series that should come out end of August/September-ish. I'll link up when the series begins. I'm really looking forward to reading everyone else's experiences with deployment. 

I'd like to say I haven't written about reintegration in a while because it's been a cake walk and hasn't been on my mind at all but that's not really the case. It hasn't been bad, it just hasn't been easy. First, I didn't know how to write about it and in many ways, I still don't. Then, there's some stuff I just can't write about...at least not yet. Nothing to do with my relationship with my husband or his relationship with our children...those relationships have remained strong and are growing. Just Joshua's transition from active duty, full-time, war-zone Army life to a civilian job where 99% of the people don't get it and have no interest in educating themselves about military life isn't easy.

Joshua's not the only one from his deployment to struggle with the drastic change to civilian life. I've learned more about PTSD and I've realized that I had, at least on some level, stereotyped "those" people. Whenever I heard those four letters I used to think of emotionally wounded, violent men who beat their wives. Now, I know people with PTSD. They're good men.

As for Joshua specifically, he's doing really well. He's going back to the VA in a couple days for his knee-he injured it while he was deployed and has been on a running profile (I'm probably not wording that correctly and he'll say something if he reads this but basically his knee is jacked up and he can't run like he would like to) which has been super annoying for him because he says I'm "making [him] fat." To which I say, "I only make the yummy meals, you decide how much of it to eat." 

Meanwhile, our Princess has him wrapped around her finger like he never missed a day. The Boy is still very much a Daddy's boy and has really grown since Joshua returned. His verbal skills have improved and although he sometimes struggles with separation anxiety, it's generally not too bad. I'm hopeful that with a little more family time, any remnant anxiety will fade away.

 By the way, if you're facing a deployment of your own with a little one at home, we HIGHLY recommend the Sesame St DVD Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings and Changes. It set us up for success with the boy. You can get it from Military One Source and it's often handed out at pre-deployment yellow ribbon events. Just keep in mind there are two DVDs. Deployment/Homecomings are two chapters on one DVD and Changes is the other DVD. I've heard (read: I'm a wuss and haven't had the emotional fortitude to find out for myself) that the Changes DVD is to be used to help explain the situation in pre-school terms if your service member comes home injured. Don't mix the two up! Also, you may want to pre-view the Deployment chapter alone so you can ball your eyes out before you watch it with your children.

As for Joshua and I, we're scheduled to go to a Strong Bonds seminar next month and although I think we're both a little nervous about it-we've never done a marriage retreat and anything led by the Army tends to keep me a bit guarded, I think it should be fun. We've had good friends go through it with nothing but positive things to say. 

I guess that's the update...we're still truckin' along. It's not always easy. It's often frustrating. But we're learning what our new normal is and so far, it's not too bad.


Jen said...

I think you will enjoy the Strong Bonds retreat! They are amazing and very informative. We have attended 3 and each has given us new tools to navigate through life together. :)

Brianna Renee said...

Great! It's always good to hear another positive review. I'm looking forward to the weekend...just nervous about the unknown.