MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Do to a high tempo work environment, service members face many emotional challenges while deployed. Unfortunately, many of those challenges can continue after returning home.
Marines and sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who returned from Western Pacific 12-2 deployment last month and they are working to transition to their home life, can use their experiences to strengthen family bonds and advance personal growth.
“Marines and sailors go through a wide range of emotions ranging from excitement to frustration when returning from a deployment,” said Lt. Cmdr. David Dinkins, chaplain, Command Element, 15th MEU. “It’s important to understand that these emotions are common and are to be expected.”
Dinkins put emphasis that reintegration with loved ones takes time and cannot be rushed.
“During your deployment everyone has changed,” said Dinkins, who has dealt with these issues after three deployments. “With the amount of time you spend on work-ups and deployed, you may have been gone up to 14 months. In that time your spouse has had to take on new roles and close friends have changed.”
Common challenges that service members face associated with these changes are communicating, balancing new friends, sharing and negotiating control and responsibilities and feeling emotionally connected.
“As Marines, we’re trained to take control in almost everything we do,” said Sgt. Sigilfredo Garcia, small arms technician, Command Element, 15th MEU. “It can be easy for Marines to feel like they need to do that coming home after a deployment, but it can put a lot of stress on the family.”
Overcoming these challenges is a team effort. Trying different ways to communicate such as writing notes, sharing common interests and listening to each other are ways to break through some of the barriers, added Dinkins, who is from Fort Worth, Texas. The more a service member practices communicating with friends and family, the more connected they’ll feel.
Emotions and feelings are dynamic. Balancing these emotions between a service member and their family can be difficult.
“It’s emotionally tough on everyone involved,” said Garcia, a 25 year-old from Michoacán, Mexico. “But it’s a little tougher on your family. They’ve had to live without you for a long time. They have their routine and it almost feels as if you’re intruding in on their life. ”
To get past this feeling, Garcia said that he had to be patient and take the time to adjust to his wife and daughter’s new routines.
“One of the biggest mistakes you can do is rush to solve some of these challenges,” Dinkins said. “Take it slow. Take the time to get to know how your spouse or your children have changed. Your relationship will be stronger for it.”
Service members and their families can also educate themselves on reintegration after deployment through resources such as family readiness officer, navy chaplain.