Homecoming is a joy that we look forward to, whether our soldier is returning from training, deployment, or far away duty station.
You’ll breathe a sigh of relief upon their return. You’ll likely treat your soldier as you always have and expect the same response you’ve always gotten.
It doesn’t always work that way.
I recall when my soldier returned from a year long deployment to Afghanistan. I had it all planned out: I would go to the state where he lived to attend the homecoming and stay for a few days. I was so excited I could hardly contain my emotions.
Little did I realize that I lacked an understanding of what my soldier wanted or needed. He needed time to decompress after being in a war zone for a year and reintegrate with his family.
I stayed home instead and waited for the call telling me he arrived home.
Being so focused on myself, I didn’t consider what my soldier might be feeling or needing. I never made that mistake again!
What to expect when your Soldier comes home from training
When your child goes through Army Basic Training, they transform from civilian to soldier during a rigorous process. Your soldier’s structured environment helps them hone their physical and mental skills within a foundation of discipline.
Your soldier will look different, as everyone dresses the same with shaved heads and a bit tired from the daily physical routine.
At graduation, you’ll get to spend some time with your soldier. Instead of planning a lot of activities, find out what your soldier wants.
They might want a nice quiet day, where they can tell you about their Basic Training experiences. Your soldier may want to enjoy a nice meal somewhere other than the DFAC (Dining Facility) on base.
Our family enjoyed a nice, quiet time on a lake. It was a much needed break from the daily challenges of Army Basic Training.
After Basic Training, your soldier will be off to AIT (Advanced Individual Training.)
You might want to shower your soldier with gifts. Remember they’ll have a lot to carry to their next destination. Help keep the load light!
Expectations When Your Soldier Returns from a Duty Station
Assignments to duty stations in CONUS (continental U.S.) or overseas are part of military life. The United States has hundreds of military bases in over 70 countries, so there’s a good chance your soldier might do an overseas tour of duty.
Being on their own, whether in CONUS or overseas, your soldier is living an independent life as a military service member. As parents, you might get tempted to baby them a bit if they return home for that long awaited visit.
The most important thing is to remember and respect the feelings and needs of your soldier.
They might not want to get babied or may prefer to spend more time with old friends. You’ll notice some changes that might seem sudden, but they aren’t. Your soldier will have changed over time but since you’re not with them all the time, it seems more abrupt.
Respect who your soldier is becoming as a responsible adult and military member.
The good news? They’ll have many adventures to share with you.
There will also be times when your soldier can’t make it home at all. Why not go on your own adventure and visit them wherever they get stationed?
My soldier’s first duty station was Germany and I couldn’t wait to visit. We traveled through Europe together and had a grand time. It was a wonderful chance for my son to show me all the places he explored.
Life can be full of amazing adventures, moments, and memories!
What to expect when your Soldier comes home from Deployment
There are various types of deployments. Your soldier may deploy to a combat zone, non-combat region, or humanitarian mission. Regardless of the type of deployment, returning home is a cause for celebration.
Patience and understanding of your soldier’s needs are most important.
If your soldier was in a combat zone, they need time to decompress and reintegrate. They’ll return to their home Army base where they can take the time they need. Although you’ll want to call or visit, leave it to your soldier to decide the best time for that.
While your life has gone on as usual, your soldier may have had experiences that are difficult to talk about. They may have gone without the everyday comforts we take for granted and have a new perspective.
Give them the time they need to adjust.
How do you prepare for when your soldier comes home? Every person is different.
Expect that your soldier will have changed, especially after being out in a world very different from the one they left behind.
Serving our country is a life-changing experience for your child and for you. Practice patience while supporting your soldier with unconditional love no matter what.