The challenges of redeployment
March 29, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION SPEICHER, Iraq - Most of us are excited when it is our turn to redeploy. We have watched other units pack up and leave. Soldiers walking out of the PX with one or two tough boxes in tow telegraph their imminent departure. When it is finally your turn to redeploy, you become the envy of the COB. Even though this is an exciting time, and a long time coming, it also presents some challenges. Two significant issues in the redeployment process are change and anxiety.
No matter who you are, your rank, or marital status, everyone will face changes in one form or another when they get back home. One way to keep up with the changes is to maintain good communication with your family. If you don't like how your spouse is doing something, express it but don't try to change it-work with him/her to see if you can come up with a solution that you both can live with. Observe how things are operating at home before you try to "fix" them. Some things won't and can't be changed. Maya Angelou said, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Be aware of this and learn to adapt. A good rule of thumb is to wait 4-6 weeks before you make any big changes-this is the average time it takes for the reintegration process.
Another issue we face is anxiety. It is normal to feel anxious when we are getting ready to return. We don't know what to expect or what changes have taken place; some Soldiers face ETS and PCS orders. All of these can add stress to an already stressful situation. One of the ways to reduce the stress is to plan ahead. Some of the anxiety stems from fear of the unknown. As you plan ahead for these changes, it reduces the fear and in turn, the anxiety. Find constructive things to do that keep you occupied. Leaders often create "busy work" to keep Soldiers occupied for this very reason: it keeps their minds and hands occupied.
A deployment is a very challenging time in a Soldier's life as well as his/her family's life. This is a time of change, both on the battlefield and the home front. Learning to adapt to these changes is important in the reintegration process, just as being constructive with your time helps reduce the anxiety that comes with the redeployment.