It’s easy to say, ‘I’ve done this before.’
It’s easy to say, ‘I’m accustomed to my soldier husband coming and going.’
It’s very, very hard to say, ‘I need help.’
As thousands of troops return from Iraq, families are ecstatic. For many, this is the second, third, even fourth or more homecoming celebration. Most military families I know now have a plastic tub in their garage marked “homecoming” where they store the yellow ribbons and American flags next to the Christmas lights and plastic jack o’lanterns.
We’ve learned to cope. We’ve learned to be prepared. But for all our perfectly labeled boxes, Facebook pages full of contacts and well-planned calendars, we’ve yet to master the hardest part of being a military wife: asking for help.
Homecomings are delicious, emotional, feel-good times. These are moments full of kisses, local news camera crews and chubby babies in perfectly pressed “My dad wears combat boots” t-shirts that make the 15 months of struggle worth every moment.
But the afterglow of homecoming eventually has to simmer and then extinguish.
Eventually, it strikes both you and your spouse that you haven’t lived together in a really long time. Divvying the chores, control of the money, parenting duties – really any dull moment of family life – can be like walking through a minefield of potential arguments.
There are emotional changes. There are physical changes. There is a lot to cope with.
And then, you think you just might see him jump when a shadow passes. He’s not sleeping through the night. He’s edgy in crowds. Is it PTSD or something else?
This homecoming may be unlike any other you’ve experienced. And even if it is, you may need help.
And that’s ok.
Early in the war, Military One Source was designed as an online resource for military families. It is different, and better, than any site I have found because the information is not just online, there is someone to talk to 24 hours a day – about anything.
Need help finding sources for daycare at your next duty station? Call. They’ll put you in touch with the right organizations.
Feeling overwhelmed and need to speak with a counselor? Call. They’ll talk to you in the moment and set up an appointment for you to speak with a local counselor as well if you would like – for free and without your husband’s unit’s involvement.
Afraid your husband is displaying too many signs of PTSD? Not sure? Call. They can talk you through it right there and then, 24 hours a day.
I’ve found it unusual to meet a spouse who has experienced only a single deployment. Most of us consider ourselves as battle-hardened, deployment-ready gals. We know the drill; we know what needs to be done.
However, I’ve also found that most of us have had that moment when we needed a hand, and were too afraid, embarrassed or even tired to ask. Don’t be. Ask for help. From a friend, family member or call Military One Source. I have, repeatedly. Just reaching out can make the weight on your shoulders feel just a little lighter.