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How Parents of Warriors Can Support Reintegration

Soldiers shaking hands

Source: Defenseimagery.mil

It’s honorable to have a warrior in your family. Your son or daughter is important to our country and you should be proud of them. However, you may have mixed feelings and emotions about a son or daughter’s deployment to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere around the globe. But as the parent of a warrior, you are not alone — there are many resources to help you support your service member as he or she reintegrates after a deployment.

Reintegration Tips for Warriors’ Parents

The reunion and readjustment period takes time and patience. Your service member has had many different experiences since you were last together and may seem changed. Give him or her plenty of time and space to reintegrate into life back at home, and try to use the following tips:

  • Let your service member set his or her own schedule and do the planning for any welcome home celebration. He or she may only want to catch up on sleep or spend time with friends.
  • Take your cues from your service member. You may be full of questions, but your son or daughter may not be ready to talk about the deployment. Try not to press for information. Just be available when he or she is ready to talk.
  • If you are concerned about your service member’s behavior, encourage him or her to seek help. If you think your warrior is experiencing the signs and symptoms of combat stress or traumatic brain injury, encourage him or her to contact:
    • A unit chaplain or medic
    • The family center or a counselor at their home installation1
    • The Psychological Health Resource Center, by logging on to Real Warriors Live Chat or calling 866-966-1020
  • If your son or daughter is a veteran, encourage him or her to visit a Vet Center. Easily found in most communities, Vet Centers can help with readjustment issues and encourage warriors struggling with psychological health or traumatic brain injury issues to seek treatment.2 You can also encourage your son or daughter to visit a VA Medical Center, which are located across the country and range from small, local clinics to large hospitals.
  • If you’re a caring for your veteran son or daughter, the VA’s National Caregiver Support Line is available to answer your questions, listen to your concerns and directly link you to the Caregiver Support Coordinator at your local VA medical center. Call toll-free 855-260-3274 to locate assistance tailored to your unique situation.

Educate Yourself About Their Military Experience

If you do not have prior military experience, then you may not understand some of the basic aspects of what your warrior may want to talk to you about. The following resources can help you educate yourself about your son or daughter’s experiences in the military.

“When Your Son or Daughter Is Deployed” Fact Sheet
The Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library’s fact sheet “When Your Son or Daughter Is Deployed” [PDF 70KB] includes a detailed description of what to expect when your warrior is serving overseas, as well as when he or she returns home.

Military Cultural Competence Training
Military Cultural Competence introduces you to the military world. Topics cover military structure, ranks and insignia, common stressors, demographic characteristics and deployment-related terminology.

Family Readiness Groups
Located at your son or daughter’s home installation, Family Readiness Groups can help you better understand military life and the issues facing warriors faced with the challenge of reintegration. Ask your son or daughter about their installation’s Family Readiness Group, or find contact information for your warrior’s home installation through MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

Real Warriors Message Boards for Families
Visit the Families section of the Real Warriors Message Boards to connect with other military families and discuss the reintegration process.

Reaching Out Is a Sign of Strength

Reintegration into life at home can be challenging, and family often plays an important role in supporting warriors’ success throughout the deployment cycle. The resources above can help you support your warrior during reintegration, but if you feel that he or she needs additional support, don’t hesitate to contact the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 for information about professional resources for successful reintegration.

Additional Resources

Sources

1"When Your Son or Daughter Is Deployed [PDF 70KB]," Deployment Health and Family Readiness Library. Last accessed on March 10, 2014.
2Sumrall, Paula. "Our Sons, Our Daughters: A National Guard Parent’s Guidebook to Deployment" [PDF 5MB], National Guard Bureau Family Program Office. Published in 2007.

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