**Through a generous donation from Northrop Grumman, and the kindness of Project Sanctuary, we have 20 Flat Daddy® figures available for your deployed families! If you have a family you think would benefit, have them complete a contact form at www.ImAlreadyHome.com."
Below is our final segment for the Single Serviceperson and those who love them. We start a new series on October 11th.
You've been running on "overload" for months now and it's hard to come home and expect to immediately be able to release everything and function at a restrained level. You need to find ways to focus that extra energy.
- Don't try to jam everything you want to do into the first couple of weeks that you're home. Trying to go at life with a sense of "overkill" can backfire on you and little things can set you off.
- Curb your aggression by taking a minute to think out a situation before you react.
- Pump out your aggression by joining a health club. Find a "workout buddy" or someone you can run with in the mornings.
- Partying with friends is great, but watch your alcohol intake for the same reasons stated above.
If you're having difficulty controlling aggressive behavior, look for assistance at the chaplain's office, at Veteran's resources, or www.MilitaryOneSource.com.
For Family and Friends
Parents: As your child is getting ready to deploy, they will be asked to locate certain important documents and "put their house in order." Sometimes parents know where documents are kept, or may even be storing them at the family home. Will you know how to reach your serviceperson in an emergency? Have a card with the name and phone number of his/her unit commander.
Friends: Let your deploying friend know that he/she will be missed and try your best to maintain some kind of regular contact with him/her. This is easiest through email and texting. Arrange to have your hometown newspaper sent to your friend overseas.
As family and friends, you are the primary support system for the single serviceperson. Learn to express your fears to your spouse or other close friends and not to the serviceperson. If he/she has to worry about your concerns, it puts more pressure on them.
- Here's a way to get everyone in the family on board: Assign a day of the week to each family member. For example, Monday goes to the sisters, Tuesday to the brothers, Wednesday to the parents, Thursday to a close friend, etc. On that day, once a week, the person assigned is responsible for connecting in some manner with the single serviceperson. It can be just an email, but it's something! This plan helps distribute the challenge of staying connected, keeps everyone in the loop, and gives the serviceperson something to look forward to each day.
- Kelly said that when she sent care packages, they took on a special purpose for her single serviceperson. It gave him something he could share on his end, which helped him connect.
- If you have a spouse or family member currently deployed, consider also "adopting" a single serviceperson. That ensures that he/she has a pen pal during the deployment and someone who sends packages, letters, photos, etc.
- Help your community, employers, spiritual network, and schools stay involved with the single serviceperson. Create a monthly newsletter about the deployed serviceperson and distribute it to his/her employer, and groups or classes he/she belongs to.
- As a parent, maintain a connection with your child's unit support system. Sometimes you too can feel isolated. Immediately contact the unit FRG leader or other base/post support system for meeting schedules, and to get on the newsletter list and telephone tree and participate in sponsored activities.
- You'll discover that spouses are usually included in the FRG chain of information, and often the information doesn't filter down automatically to other family members, particularly those of single service members. Keep contacting your child's FRG to be sure you're on the lists for alerts, newsletters, and event notifications. Another option is to find out if you can also stay in contact virtually with the FRG.
Reunion and Reintegration
You've all changed, and while you've moved on in your relationships, jobs, and grown in other expected ways, your deployed friend has experienced things that were new and unusual. Please be patient. The greatest gift you can give now is to listen.
Friends: Educate yourself on how he/she may have changed. If you have a feeling of what you might expect, it will make your reunion go smoother.
- Don't be too "intrusive" right away. Sometimes a good friend should take a "sit and wait" approach and be available when the service member needs or wants to talk. Try not to bombard them with questions about what happened "over there."
- Mike shared that when his single friend Pete returned from Iraq, he set up a small party with their friends and just made sure that Pete was there. It was an informal environment and gave Pete a chance to blend back in slowly. It also gave him a chance to talk to people one-on-one in a safe place.
Parents: Please don't be too disappointed if your returning son or daughter isn't there at your house all the time, or even as much as you think he/she should be. There are many people they want to reconnect with. Have reasonable expectations and know that even though they are your children, they are also grown people who have gone off and done the work of a man or woman.
**Reminder - September 30 fiscal year deadline is approaching. We have limited stock of "I'm Already Home...Again" and "The Road Home" on hand. Place orders early for immediate shipment rather than wait for a reprint. Call 1-800-780-0460.**