As a single person living in the barracks, you may have new roommates when you return, or you may have someone who has been living in your home or apartment while you were away. Perhaps you moved out prior to deploying and will need to find a new residence when you return. Regardless of your living situation, one of your first tasks will be to “put your house in order.” Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to focus on re-establishing your friends, family, and social ties.
As you anticipate going home, keep in mind that you’ve made new friends and you’ve functioned in living and working environments that may be very different from anything you’d experienced previously. As a result, you’ve returned a different person based on these new life experiences.
If you have a “significant other” in your life, this person may have also changed in your absence. Change inevitably creates stress. As you adapt to changes that may be required in your relationships, you may experience some worry, frustration, anger, confusion, fatigue, mood swings, or sleep difficulties. Usually such difficulties don’t last longer than two to four weeks. If these experiences continue, consult your chaplain, physician, counseling or mental health services for assistance. Many couples know each other well enough that they ‘just know’ when to re-establish their intimate relations- the first hour, the first day, etc. You and your partner may want to take some time to feel comfortable with each other again. Remember that your timing as a couple is yours alone.
Regardless of whether or not you have a significant other in your life, there are, no doubt, people whom you consider to be family. What does family mean to you? Is family restricted to biological relatives or do you also think of close friends as family? Will you be going home to visit your family? Whether you see your family at a reunion event or you travel home, how do you feel about seeing them? What will you talk about? How will you respond to changes that may be taking place in your family? Perhaps a sibling is going through a divorce, or a grandparent has become seriously ill. Be prepared for changes.
At some point, you may feel that nothing is going the way you planned and hoped. It is still vital that you make plans, especially for the first few days of your return. If you do not have friends or family who live in the local area, make plans with other returning unit members for a homecoming activity that is special for you, and remember to call home.
As a single service member returning from deployment, one goal you may have is to meet someone new. Maybe you are recently single following the end of a long-term relationship or a divorce. Consider some issues: what kind of relationship are you looking for? What do you want in a relationship? What do you contribute in a relationship? And the hard part, how do you get yourself to go out and meet new people? You have to like yourself enough to take the chance and go places and meet new people, female and male. It is important to have a good self-image because it will enable you to take risks, get over rejections, and overcome the stereotypes associated with being in the military.
Now is also a good time to focus on how you really want to live upon return. When you were deployed, you may have felt like you couldn’t do everything you wanted to do (understandably) and now want to make up for lost time. But it is important to be realistic. Don’t do anything to excess, especially if it involves drinking or spending money. You can have a good time without harming yourself or your bank account.
Beyond practical issues, consider what impact the deployment will have on your social relationships and living habits. Many people with whom you’ve made friends on the deployment may now be much less available to you, particularly if they’re married and are busy getting reacquainted with their families. This can promote feelings of loneliness and even mild depression. At the same time, you can keep yourself busy by actively reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances back home. Like everyone else who comes back from deployment, it makes sense to keep expectations reasonable and to be patient. Within a few weeks, your life should once again be back to a predictable and comfortable pattern.