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Reunion/Homecoming -- Question & Answer Listing  
Question / Answer

How can our Family Readiness Group plan welcome home receptions when the unit's return dates and times keep changing?

Acknowledge the fact that unit return dates and times will vary and often change at the last minute. If the unit is returning from an overseas deployment such as Iraq or Afghanistan (or any place where there is conflict or internal turmoil), flight schedules and rosters typically remain classified – for security reasons – until the flights actually take off. This is for your Soldier’s protection. Additionally, changes in weather or other factors can cause delays. Accept these facts and try to be flexible with your welcome home reception plans. Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders should stay in close contact with the Rear Detachment Commander, as he/she should be able to provide the most current information on incoming personnel. Maintain current phone trees to enable you to pass on updates and coordinate your welcome home receptions. Keep in mind that when a large unit deploys, they often return in shifts and some returning groups may be smaller than others. Try to extend the same enthusiasm and warm welcome home reception to each group of Soldiers, regardless of their size.

How important is it for Family Readiness Groups to coordinate and/or support reunion briefings prior to a unit's redeployment?

Soldiers, and their family members who were left behind, grow and often change in some ways during deployments. It might simply be the fact that the spouse left behind has become more independent during his/her Soldier’s absence or may have become accustomed to acting as a single parent. Learning to share responsibilities again with his/her Soldier can be challenging. Similarly, the Soldier who deployed has become accustomed to a different environment and needs to re-adapt to being back home again. Even children go through an adjustment period. Reunion briefings (or reintegration training as they are also called) are used to cope with these issues. Reunion briefings are provided to Soldiers prior to their return from a lengthy deployment as part of the redeployment process. Similar training is made available to family members on the home front through Army Community Service Centers, often in coordination with post or unit chaplains. Reunion is a time of readjustment following separation. It is the process of making life “normal” again. One of the key purposes of a Family Readiness Group is to serve as a support network for Soldiers and their families, which is why coordinating and/or promoting attendance at reunion briefings is so important.

What can I do to alleviate stress associated with reunions once my Soldier returns from his/her deployment?

Deployments, and reunions following a deplolyment, can be very stressful on families but there are things you can do prior to your Soldier's return and even after his/her return to alleviate some of this stress. Take advantage of any reunion classes that are offered (if any) in your local military community prior to your Soldier's return. Your Soldier will have the opportunity to participate in them as well. They can provide you with great tips for having a successful reunion and can also help you and your spouse develop realistic expectations for the reunion period. Additionally, recognize that you both may have changed/grown during your time apart so expect some adjustments to occur in your family life. Try to maintain some normalcy in your life and communicate with each other. There are many resources you can turn to in your military and civilian community such as your chaplain and family health provider.

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