Welcome home, Warriors

  • Published
  • By Col. Diane Hull
  • 319th Air Refueling Wing Commander
Home. For those returning from a long deployment, coming home can have many meanings. It could mean returning to the loving arms of family and friends. It might mean getting life back to normal. And unfortunately, for some, coming home may mean entering into an environment of conflict and change. No matter the individual meanings, one thing is certain; it is stressful.

It is not only stressful for the member, but also for their spouse or significant other, their children, friends and even co-workers. There are many reasons for the stress; however, most of the stress comes from getting reacquainted and attempting to resume exactly where the member left off prior to deploying.

For this reason, the 319th Air Refueling Wing has established several reintegration classes through the Airman and Family Readiness Center for people returning from deployments. I highly encourage members to soak up every ounce of information provided. There are also classes available to spouses and children. For class information call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 747-3241.

Upon returning, Airmen should realize the spouse has been mother and father during the member's absence and, in some cases, has established their own way of doing things. It can be like being a visitor in your own home. Although children initially rejoice at having a beloved parent return, the reality of having a parent back in the household may take some getting used to. Returning to normal will take considerable love, time and patience.

Spouses or significant others should realize that the Airman has been working virtually non-stop every day for the last four to six months and sometimes lived and worked in harm's way. They may need to just relax and take a breather. In most cases, they don't want or need to be bombarded with a "honey-do" list the moment they walk through the door. They may need time to do their hobby, sleep in their own bed or just sit and watch American television with American commercials.

There are also cases where the Airman just wants to have an ice-cold beer. If that is the case, it is probably a well-deserved reward. However, family, friends and co-workers alike should put the wingman concept into play. After several alcohol-free months, the Airman's tolerance level will be much lower and be affected much quicker. The second drink four months ago might not have even had an effect; however, now it could put them over the top without any notice. Airmen must understand that driving under the influence will not be tolerated. Airmen Against Drunk Driving, first sergeants, supervisors and commanders are standing by to help get Airmen home safe - have a wingman and a plan.

We are so proud of all of our redeploying warriors and their families. Please take some time to relax and reunite with friends and family. Job well done and welcome home Warriors.