FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- After nearly a decade of deployments in support of wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, Soldiers and their families continue to endure long separations and are faced with challenges at each stage of deployment.

Post deployment, a time when Soldiers readjust to life at home, involves its own set of challenges for both the Soldier and the family. Understanding how to reintegrate and reconnect during this time is critical to the strength of the Army.

The Army and Department of Defense have developed programs and resources to aid families during post-deployment readjustment.

With three deployments under her belt as a military spouse, Jennifer Walker, family readiness group leader, 40th Expeditionary Signal brigade, knows all too well the many issues Soldiers and families face during the reintegration process.

“It’s always an adjustment when your Soldier comes home,” she said. “It is absolutely a process, and you have to figure out what works best for you and your family.”

Although families may experience this at different levels, the biggest problem is becoming a unit again, said Russ Carey, relocation manager, Army Community Service.

“During this time, Soldiers will eventually want to reassert their role as a member of the family, and spouses may experience a loss of independence,” he explained. “During a year-long deployment, the spouse was everything from bill payer to mother and father. I always encourage Soldiers to allow the spouse to continue to do what they were doing and not just jump in and take over everything.”

According to experts at the website, post deployment is probably the most important stage for both Soldier and spouse. Patient communication, going slowly, lowering expectations and taking time to get to know each other again is critical to the task of successful reintegration.

If families are experiencing difficulties during this time, there are a number of counseling resources available on the installation and throughout the local community.

“One of the biggest assets that we have here is the Military and Family Life Consultant Program,” Carey said.

According to the MFLC Program’s website, consultants provide solution-oriented consultations to individuals, couples, families, and groups. The MFLC Program is designed to provide support and assistance to active duty Soldiers, National Guard and Reserves, military family members and civilian personnel. MFLCs can help people who are having trouble coping with a number of issues to include deployment cycles.

“One of the great qualities about the Military and Family Life Consultant Program is that it’s totally anonymous. The counselor doesn’t even need to know your name, and there is absolutely no paperwork involved. It’s a program intended to make Soldiers and their families feel comfortable seeing a counselor without getting the command involved,” Carey said.

Although no paperwork is involved; MFLCs have a responsibility to report any issues of abuse, harm to others, and harm to self, Carey stressed

Another option Soldiers have is counseling though Military OneSource, which offers three kinds of short-term, non-medical counseling options to active duty, National Guard, and Reserve members and their families.

The service is designed to provide help with short-term issues such as adjustment to situational stressors, stress management, decision making, communication, grief, blended-family, and parenting-skills issues, according the organization’s website.

“Soldiers and their families can contact Military OneSource and schedule to meet with a counselor of their choice downtown in the local community,” Carey said.

Each eligible service or family member may receive up to 12 sessions, per issue, per counselor at no cost.

“Sometimes all you need to do is talk to someone,” he said. “You may feel like everything is caving in around you, and to be able to sit down with someone who knows nothing about you, or who you are creates that feeling of the weight has been lifted off your shoulders.”

Carey stressed there is no need for Soldiers and family members to fear counseling as an option.

“There is an old adage that if you go to a therapist you may lose your clearance or everyone will know something is wrong with you. With these programs being anonymous, it is a lot easier for Soldiers and family members to come forward and get the assistance they need.”

Carey added that other counseling options are available through installation chaplains and staff at Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center.

“I think it’s awesome to have so many options available through ACS and other agencies,” Walker said. “I think Soldiers and families just need to take advantage and utilize resources available to them.”

Page last updated Mon August 8th, 2011 at 16:53