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Redeployment adjustments are not easy

Stephen Ministry

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POSTED: November 1, 2010 2:41 p.m.
I remember the day so well — like it was yesterday. The wheels of the 707 jet airliner hit the runway at Sea-Tac Airport that evening in darkness. The sound of silence inside the filled-to-capacity plane was deafening. Literally, you could have heard a pin drop. And then wild hysteria broke out. Shouts of joy filled the cabin as emotion overcame every GI on board. They had been holding back for more than a year.
It was an amazingly significant moment in the early chapter of my young life, one I’ll never forget — ever. That joyous day is matched by very few others in my life. The experience left me with the lyrics of Bobby Vinton’s “Coming Home Soldier” permanently etched in my memory.
My return followed a long year of unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells, responsibilities, accountabilities, death and devastation, culture shock, perils and survival in a place so far away we had only seen it on a world map in school.
That was then — and this is now.
Fast forward to the present, to young men and women — much the same as we once were — coming home, some for the third or fourth time, from lands far away from their loved ones. The places may be different, but the emotions are the same. The feelings have always been the same — for them, for us and for generations past. Whether you fought on the front lines or in support of those who did, there are and may continue to be life-changing forces at work.
After hugs, kisses and welcomes on the tarmac, the “Welcome home, Daddy,” “We love you” and “Well done, heroes,” signs, after the first dinner with friends and family, the long-awaited embraces from spouses, after catching up with the kids, the sounds of joy and laughter die down. There is a time of many adjustments. Many of these adjustments are positive and wonderful, but others may be destructive to one’s self and to families.
I remember both sides of return so well. I remember the smell of my first home-cooked meal, the freedom of being able to rest, relax and revisit old friends, family members and places. Being free was a sweet thing then and surely now. I also remember the bittersweet return to the reality of everyday life, of getting back into the groove and the mode of life as usual. But is it ever “as usual?” Can it ever be the same again?
What can I do when I’m next to the one I love, in the darkness, wide awake at 2 a.m., my nerves on overload, hearing things outside that go bump in the night and feeling all alone? What do I do when I start to get edgy, when I want to spend more time with my buddies than with my family? What do I do when I get agitated and irritated with my spouse and kids over the smallest things? And, most of all, how do I not deal negatively with my family when they tell me that they feel I am totally separated or headed away from them and their reality?
What do I do to regain true intimacy with my spouse and family, to work well, get along and establish normalcy in my life? How do I make myself understand that even though I have been gone before and endured separation many times, sometimes things change. Things like base values, faith, attentiveness, communication and the realities of injuries, both mental and physical. How do I grapple with the memory of seeing friends and comrades not return whole or not at all?
There are people who understand and who can help make a difference. Almost every member of the Stephen Ministry team based at First Baptist Church in Hinesville is a combat veteran. They’ve been there. They understand how you feel. Our trained men and women can relate to your service and how you feel because we have lived through what is going on in your world, both overseas and while adjusting at home. We are faith-based and trained to listen and walk with you through personal and family transition issues, one-on-one, in total confidence for as long as it takes.
We have been and are currently helping individuals and families with deployment and non-deployment-related issues right here in Liberty County. We tackle things like family values, communication, relationships, PTSD, transition, emotional anger, substance abuse and loss of faith. We also have excellent professional referral resources for those who seek or require specific referrals.
Thank you, troops, for your service and commitment to our freedoms. God loves you and so do we.
If you or someone you know could benefit from a one-on-one, gender-sensitive, caring relationship with a Stephen Minister, call 320-7840 or 876-2687 for a confidential appointment. Learn more about the Stephen Ministry at stephenministry.org.
 

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