He's coming home, what you need to know

  • Published
  • By Katherine Chegwidden
  • 319th Mission Support Squadron Phoenix Spouse
I remember the first time I heard the word "deployment," my husband and I had only been married for seven months. At that time, I was attending a commander's call briefing for spouses in the squadron and my husband, thankfully, was not going anywhere, or so I thought. I kept telling people I did not know why I was there because he never deployed.

Soon thereafter I learned I was wrong. We found out two days later that he was deploying and was leaving in two days. My world was turned upside down. I didn't know what to say or do. I went to the family readiness center and asked them to repeat everything that was said in the briefing because I was not paying attention the first time.

I was told that he would be gone for about 90 days (back then that was long) but he could be gone for as long as 179 days. Okay, I thought, I can handle this. I was wrong again. I had no idea what to expect. Incredibly, my life went on as normal at home. I went through the normal daily activities and before I knew it he was on his way home.

Then, there was another big adjustment period. I was used to having the bed to myself, watching what I wanted to on TV, going where I wanted to downtown and not sharing anything. Even though I was happy to have him home, I didn't want to give up everything that I became used to.

Here are some tips that may help you with your spouse being home again.

1. Adjusting back to normal life can be stressful. Remember that things will not always be the same as they were before the servicemember left. Remember that the picture you may have of the reunion in your mind is not always what happens. As the support team, we have to remain flexible and understanding.
2. Expect changes in you and your spouse's day-to-day life. Believe it or not, both of you have changed a little during the deployment period.
3. Most of all, remember they are coming home from a stressful location. Not only will there be culture shock, but weather shock as well. They left in the summer and they are returning in the winter.
4. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your spouse. If you don't know where to turn, remember your phoenix spouse, first sergeant, commander, and chaplain are here for you and your family.
5. Don't bury your problems, they'll just continue to grow and get worse if ignored. If I did not talk with my spouse when he first came home from deployments, I know that I would not be an Air Force spouse today.

The most important thing to know during your spouse's deployment and reunion is that you are not in this alone. Each unit has a phoenix spouse assigned to it who has volunteered to support the spouses and family members of the unit and act as a liaison between them and their supporting squadrons. Phoenix spouses are there to greet family members as they arrive to the unit and to pass along assistance and information to them while they're assigned here. Phoenix spouses also help to assist the first sergeants and commanders regarding family readiness and delivering them feedback, allowing the enhancement of quality of life for unit families.

Being a spouse in the Air Force is a tough job, but the joy of being reunited after they return and the satisfaction of knowing that we contributed to the Air Force mission make it all worth the amount of time apart. After all, as the saying goes, distance does make the heart grow fonder.