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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Military Families: Preparing for Your Troop's Return Home

Hearts Toward Home International is the brainchild of Bridget C Cantrell, Ph.D. She is a leading clinical psychologist specializing in the area of combat-related PTSD, and has set up a workbook/counseling program which supports families supporting returning troops. A free chapter of the Turning Your Heart Toward Home program is available online. I'll share some of the ideas found in this excellent resource with you today.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Hearts Toward Home website:

Perhaps we now have the opportunity to make up the ground we lost when our troops came home from previous wars. “Turning Your Heart Toward Home” is a course that utilizes many lessons learned from the past. It provides tools for warriors to reintegrate with their loved ones upon returning from their military assignments.

The combination of educational skills and experiences have structured this powerful course entitled “Turning Your Heart Toward Home”. This vital information addresses and resolves many of the destructive issues surrounding relationship reintegration when soldiers return home from war. During the course, war veterans and family members alike are directed to the core concerns that work against healthy reconnections. Using step-by-step inventories participants are guided toward rebuilding healthy relationships.

The excerpt that I'll share with you today answers the question every military family member struggles with: What can I do to prepare for the return of my troop?
The very first thing you need to do is prepare yourself mentally for the changes and differences that will prevail for a while in your relationship. As much as we all want things to go back to the way they were before deployment, realize this is an unreal expectation. To think that you and your loved [one] can go back to square one and pick up where you left off is setting yourself up for a loss. Time has passed, lives have changed. Be progressive and stay focused in the here and now.

Here are some ways to prepare. Discuss them as a group and list out productive coping methods:

  • For marriage partners: Plan to start the dating process all over again. Rekindle the friendship and romantic aspects of your relationship, and sort out the responsibilities afterwards.
  • For family members: Plan to view the relationship in the present and avoid trying to re-live childhood activities, remembrances, and/or dreams. (After engaging in wartime activities, dreams and innocent notions of life may have been shattered and most likely the furthest thing from their mind. Bringing [up] the memories of their past life can remind them too much of what they have lost.)
  • Plan for ways to be sensitive to your loved one's idiosyncrasies. For example, it is considerate to ask them where they would like to sit in a restaurant. Refrain from demanding that they go shopping in crowded malls. Do what you can to keep the kids from crawling on them too much (remember the 'perimeter wire'?). Do not take it personal if your loved one does not hug as much as you would like. If you give them space by understanding and respecting the 'wire' principle, hopefuly they will draw closer in time.
Download your own copy of the first chapter to find more helpful advice. And be patient with your troop -- and yourself.

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