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Iraq Homecoming Tips
Freepmail | Feb. 9, 2004 | FRiend in the USAF

Posted on 02/09/2004 6:44:50 AM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl

  Iraq Homecoming Tips

I'm an NCO in the USAF (deployed to Iraq) and wanted to pass on a few hints for those family members who's soldiers, airmen, marines, seamen will be rotating out of the AOR as the major rotation has started. This time of transition will not be picture perfect or easy for most, as everyone over here changes a bit, as they have to. If you could pass these homecoming tips on, I'd appreciate it.

First of all, don't push your loved one for information. If they want to talk about it, they will, if not, they won't. Some things are hard to talk about and some things are not to be talked about. You can ask questions, but don't push. If they say they don't want to talk about it, leave it at that. They have probably seen some things they'll never forget that they probably rather wish they could. There are also things they are not allowed to talk about.

Next, expect him or her to have changed. Necessity forces it... they will not be exactly as they were when they left. They've had a rough time and the most recent part of their lives have been filled with more than they could probably describe.

Watch their intake of beer, wine, etc... Most have not drank anything in several months (if not over a year) and their tolerance is not what they think it is, it's ALOT lower. Many will try to keep up with everyone else or think they can still "handle it". It doesn't work that way.

Don't be surprised if they are quieter than normal. Don't worry about it unless it's excessive. Alot of people can't explain it but it's been a long time since they've been around anyone but other military members. They're not used to being touched and not used to being very close to someone. Don't be afraid to show them you love them, but make sure you don't over do it.

Finally, don't overwhelm them with everything at once... You should know if they are getting overloaded. These guys are coming back from a completely different world into what is normal for you. There are so many things taken for granted, that they've had to deal without. There are no shopping malls, there are no 25 isle department stores, there are no convenience shops, there are major choices... Many things will seem brand new to them as they've not seen it in so long. Give them time to adjust to the "Culture Shock".

Finally, don't forget to tell them that you love them and you're happy that they are home. Those words can mean so much to them. Many expect grand welcomings and many have no idea what to expect. Some expect everything to be just as they left it and things won't be. Things have changed in the time that you've been gone.

Homecoming is the event they've waited all this time for. It is seldom what they expect. Give them time and give them room when they need it. On the same note, there will be times when they want lots of attention, be sure to share it with them.  
 
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TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: army; coastguard; deployment; gnfi; goodguys; guard; homecoming; marines; military; militaryfamilies; navy; reserves; rotation; rr; supportourtroops; troops; veterans; welcomehome
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Thank you very much , Ragtime Cowgirl , Thank you send this message to me .
21 posted on 02/09/2004 3:55:04 PM PST by serurier (We come here for the freedom of the world)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; Old Sarge
RC, your post provides insight into how much our military and their families sacrifice.

Thanks for posting Old Sarge's beautiful poem.
22 posted on 02/09/2004 7:21:00 PM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
bump
23 posted on 02/10/2004 8:08:08 PM PST by VOA
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
How wonderful of you to do this. Thank you!

24 posted on 02/12/2004 9:20:14 PM PST by Bradís Gramma (Pray for America and Israel)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
As Marine Captain Dale Dye would advise on his radio show last year:
"Sit and listen. Listen some more. Give 'em all the time and latitude to get it all out."
25 posted on 02/12/2004 9:49:45 PM PST by VOA
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; Old Sarge; All
I copied this entire thread and pasted to an email to the members of my family -- my brother is due back in the next 2 months or so. My sister-in-law had some very interesting responses to it, and I wanted to share. We all think a lot about the soldier who's been away -- and well we should. Their sacrifice is to be appreciated and applauded. But those left at home are OFTEN forgotten, and their sacrifices have been just as signifigant -- dealing with all sorts of issues on their own without the present support of a spouse they are left to carry on. And for those, like my sister-in-law who have limited family involvement due to the fact that they live about 5 hours away from us, it's even harder. I salute the spouses who have had to hold it together alone -- God bless you all! You are heroes, too!

Here's her email:

By this same token, those returning should know that the earth did rotate while they were gone. Their children's likes and dislikes are not the same, period. Anyone away for over a year can not expect those they worked with before to not ask questions or to be at the same level of compency (or lack thereof) that they were when the soldier left.Loyalties, clients and the like have had to compensate for the soldier not being there for so long. They can not (in most cases) just pick up where they left off. They will also have to understand that the "novelty" of their return, sadly will dissipate quickly for everyone but them. Anger, resentment, confusion may be their intial reaction but they need to realize 99% of the people they will see daily upon return have not been in their shoes for the past many months. They can not expect an inherent understanding or full comprehension of how things can change a person on the inside. People will expect them to be up and running when they hit American soil. Some will realize that it takes longer. Most don't think about how long it will take. The far reaching effects can be daunting but does that mean the soldier will be "cut some slack" for several months? Probably not. Try weeks. They are back in the capitalist's homeland. Competition reigns supreme.

Family is not going to remember every detail over the past year to try to get the soldier "caught up" Nor should it be expected. Where the soldier may need to keep some things to themselves, understand others too will need the same understanding. Chances are that your loved ones cried alone more than you would guess. They prayed for strength to do things they knew had to be done. They had to overcome their own inner battles with no one else to discuss it with. Yes we are excited. Yes we want our family member out of harm's way and back in our arms. Your families' have been warriors of the heart. That also changes people. Many have struggled with intangibles. Many have had to do things they never expected to do in their lives or maybe never expected to do alone. They too have been changed and would like to be appreciated for what they were able to accomplish. Not harrassed for what they didn't. Things come easily for some and hard for others. That is why we try to marry someone who balances us out. Just because we were able to have managed something while the soldier was gone doesn't mean we still want to do so later. Or perhaps they may find that their partner really was better at getting bills out on time and organizing schedules. Enjoy that. Negotiate the things neither of you like to do. Don't just do the fun stuff, like giving the kids a bath or reading them stories or taking them to the park etc. The spouse left behind has had to be the big bad wolf and the nuturer all in one. I'm guessing a little break from that would help too. Love and support goes both ways.

Remember that you chose to be a member of the Armed Forces. You were not drafted into something you never would have done otherwise. Your kids, parents, siblings, signifigant others probably were. Think about it.

I read this and it sounds so harsh. I have struggled for over a week as to wether I should respond with this viewpoint from the other side of the looking glass. I'm afraid our guys/gals are not going to get the proper preparation for this type of reality. Yes the basics of put your gun down, change clothes and exit the gates will surely be reviewed. I just think that perhaps the viewpoint put forward in Support Group tapes was a bit lop-sided. I also wonder how many soldiers read the material, watched the videos and listened to the CDs on the subject. Incomplete as it was, it is a start. Remember they have been a team of sameness for a year or so. Now they come back and the world goes on. Now their "home team" will be a true shuffle of personalities. I know we have appreciated them and their efforts. I just hope they remember that it goes both ways.

I just hope that it does not appear that I am an ingrate. I don't think that it is just the soldier but society that has neglected the reality of the ripple effect on families, friends, employers and co-workers.

26 posted on 02/17/2004 8:39:58 PM PST by StarCMC (God protect the 969th in Iraq and their Captain, my brother...God protect them all!)
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To: StarCMC
Your sister in law is not forgotten!
27 posted on 02/17/2004 8:45:24 PM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (Thank You Troops, Past and Present)
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
Thanks Tonk!
28 posted on 02/17/2004 8:50:40 PM PST by StarCMC (God protect the 969th in Iraq and their Captain, my brother...God protect them all!)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Ragtime Cowgirl,I saw most of this on Karen's visit in Dec.
29 posted on 02/17/2004 9:01:51 PM PST by fatima (Karen ,Ken 4 ID,Jim-Karen is coming home from Iraq March 1st,WooHoo)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Do you mind my adding your comment to the homecoming tips thread? A Veteran / Freeper in Iraq wrote it, and others are adding to the list.

Your comments would be welcome.

I'll just add two observations. Do not be particularly surprised if they happen to watch the network evening TV news, on CNN or Fox, and see reports about operations they're REAL familiar with, or of places they know well, and are absolutely floored about how wrong, confused, mixed up, skewed, slanted, erronious, off-kilter or screwed up some of those reports may be. And they may have some particularly colourfully descriptive terms both for the reports and for those making them. If you ever had any suspicions about the inaccuracies in some reporting, you may get them confirmed, quite suddenly.

Not to worry: you have a tool not everyone else has: right here. If somebody winds up steamed about press lies, let them spill the beans here, where there are other veterans who'll know immediately what they're talking about and hopefully, what to do about it...but in any event, it'll be a way they can let off some of the understandable steam they build up about that little problem. And those inclined to chip in here will get more than a few welcomes; a few already have. Every cloud has a silver lining, and one from this war is going to be an intake of some real fine soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who've done their jobs as well as they could, and can find some of the thanks they deserve here. We'll be getting some super new FReepers, and I think most will appreciate the welcome they'll find here.

One word of warning, however: there will also be a higher number of female veterans among those coming home, and they'll be facing a few particular problems that I won't even pretend to understand or be able to know about in the slightest; those who feel qualified to make any relevant observations are invited to do so. I suspect a lot of them will hook up with each other for support and there's nothing new or unusual about that; it's what most vets do. But they may find a few similarities with their fellow female vets from other periods, or with some of the guys with whom they served. Or they may look to someone sufficiently different and seperate from what they've undergone, or may care to deal with such matters in their own personal ways. Sad to say, I've lost count of the number of women troops killed so far; at least a half dozen, I believe, maybe more. That's nothing new either, but it's new to them, and in a lot of cases, they'll need some help in dealing with it, just like a lot of the guys will.

And oh yeah, this won't be the last one, either. Five years from now, or ten, fifteen or twenty, a new batch of Americans can expect to find themselves in some global armpit with people working out different and better ways of killing them. There'll be some bitterness when that comes around, too, for some of 'em, anyway.

-archy-/-

30 posted on 02/23/2004 5:43:28 AM PST by archy (Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT! Done dirt cheap! Neckties, contracts, high voltage...Done dirt cheap!)
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To: archy
something ive done for a couple of yrs now and its fun!!...thanksgiving and christmas i go to a military town and start picking up tabs at cafes and resuarants...i tell the witress to give me the service mens check but dont tell them who paid for it!..even bought a few tanks of gas too!...they never know who did it but im sure they remember the gesture...just wish i could do more for our guys and gal in uniform
31 posted on 02/23/2004 5:48:53 AM PST by rrrod
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To: archy
Thank you.

Those at home need help understanding.

We say and do insensitive things out of ignorance.

32 posted on 02/23/2004 8:38:37 AM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl ("(We)..come to rout out tyranny from its nest. Confusion to the enemy." - B. Taylor, US Marine)
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To: StarCMC
Military members are usually briefed or given "re-integration" classes before they depart their duty station on this type of thing. It's one of the ways that the military is trying to take care of the families and cause a lot less stress. Noone can make the member pay attention or make them take the effort to learn what they need to learn. That's why the family must always get them to realise this. One of the biggest things they say in the briefings is that things are not as they were so don't expect them to be. Be it 4 months or a year, things change and people change. Life changes on a second to second basis. The chaplains and life skills people are always trying to teach the members this.

Spouses/partners/significant others are a major part of any military person's life and the military is realizing that. Communications are critical for any relationship to work and both participants have to share what's going on, what's happened and how things are going to work. I know that a lot of lattitude is given for communicating back home especially in the way of electronic communications. Even a line or two every couple days can make a major difference in both lives. With good communications alot of these potential conflicts are resolved before they become an issue. Especially important is the military member's acknowledgement of his/her appreciation of what the spouse has done. Any relationship is a give/take thing. Both have to do it and both have to share. Without that, there won't be much of a relationship.

As for "hitting the ground running", it's very true that the same expectations will be there for them once they return to work but there will be some time given to them to readjust. Usually for a 4 month deployment they are given 2 weeks unchargeable paid leave and for a year gone a month. This is provided by the military to insure that they have some kind of time to re-adjust. How they use this time is important, this is when they are supposed to be learning "how the system works" now. It's the military member's responsibility to do that.
33 posted on 02/23/2004 1:25:51 PM PST by Jammz ("The only thing needed for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing.")
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To: Jammz
Thank you for your insights. This is my brother's first deployment and we are not a military family, so we are feeling our way along. :o)
34 posted on 02/23/2004 1:44:43 PM PST by StarCMC (God protect the 969th in Iraq and their Captain, my brother...God protect them all!)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
periodic bump for publicity...as lots of troops are cycling home...
35 posted on 03/23/2004 5:21:48 PM PST by VOA
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To: VOA
Thanks, VOA.

I add the link to homecoming threads, but it needed bumping!

36 posted on 03/23/2004 5:36:39 PM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl ("(We)..come to rout out tyranny from its nest. Confusion to the enemy." - B. Taylor, US Marine)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
I add the link to homecoming threads, but it needed bumping!

Ya dun' good...that's how I got to the article!

Just thought it was a good idea to give it a bit of it's own exposure.
37 posted on 03/23/2004 5:39:07 PM PST by VOA
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
I add the link to homecoming threads, but it needed bumping!

Ya dun' good...that's how I got to the article, via your link!

Just thought it was a good idea to give it a bit of it's own exposure.
38 posted on 03/23/2004 5:39:31 PM PST by VOA
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
And beware of democrats. They do not care that you arrested one of the world's major mass murderers. You are in the way of their regaining power, and they will spit on you.
39 posted on 03/23/2004 5:42:37 PM PST by js1138
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator


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