The Emotional Cycle During Deployment

Section Four: Anticipation of Return

As the end of deployment draws closer, you will experience both excitement and apprehension.

Yes, you will have feelings of excitement and anticipation. There is a feeling of the deployment winding down and a rush of activity to get all the things on your “to-do” list finished. There may also be feelings of apprehension or nervousness related to concerns about how the Service Member will view the decisions and changes that were made in his/her absence. As the return date approaches, you may even experience restlessness and even indecision and irritability. It is important to understand your mix of feelings at this time.

Service Members are challenged to stay focused on the mission while the tendency is to look forward to being home.

Service Members have the challenge of remaining mission focused until just a couple of days before the return, or as they pack! They may be transported from a combat zone to the living room in less than 72 hours. What a culture shock that is! Service Members may feel anxious about how they will be received by their family members, especially children, after being gone, or about where they will fit in and if they are even still needed at home. Coping strategies apply to all members of the family and are even more effective when they are shared. Read the statements to the right and decide if they are true or false in anticipating the Service Member’s return home.

While the Service Member must remain focused on the mission, this is a great time for other family members to share their excitement.

The video to the right shows the excitement and apprehension that comes immediately before family reintegration. In this clip, you’ll see that the children are apprehensive, yet the mother is understanding and provides a calming influence. When do you tell the children about the return? How do you think family members not in the Service Member’s household feel as they look forward to the return? It is very important to discuss plans for the return with everyone involved, so that realistic expectations can be set for everyone from spouse to friends to in-laws! It will help reduce stress if everyone understands how the reunion will take place. As always, open communication is critical in the final days before the long-awaited homecoming.