No, nobody died. RIP in Army terms stands for Relief in Place. And, that’s exactly what I am doing right now. I intended to write about V&B (Vine & Branch, the Not-For-Profit I hope to open for Veterans and their families) during this post, but I’ve been utterly busy the entire week getting my replacement situated before I return to the States. I am tired and honestly do not feel like writing. With that said, I simply decided not to write about V&B today. My mind can’t concentrate on it. Instead, I want to capture my feelings in the moment so that other people can understand something about military culture.
Inevitably, positions within the military always transition. You can either transition every few years or in my case at the end of a yearlong deployment. These times are happy, sad, and anxious all at the same time. You devote an entire year of your life and your family’s life to a mission and hope at the end that it was all worth it.
Some servicemen and women have great homes and families to return to, while others are returning to brokenness and despair. Believe it or not, some people do not want to leave from deployments because their identities are unhealthily wrapped in being deployed. Fortunately for me, I have a great wife and wonderful daughters.
As a Counselor helping Veterans in their families, you might see some of these people in your office following a deployment like the one I’m on. Even for happy couples and families, there is a re-adjustment period. There will be one for me and my family.
I know that the world has moved on since I’ve been gone. Movies have come out that I haven’t seen and shared with Jen; my girls have grown and reached mile stones over this past year, and Jen has been a single mom the entire time I’ve been away. Needless to say, I don’t expect to re-enter their lives like nothing has changed.
For Veterans who are Reservists and National Guard Members, they often deal with the complications caused by returning to full time jobs or working environments, situations where people may not understand or even affirm what’s gone on in a Veteran’s life while he or she was away.
If you are seeing Veterans and their families, I recommend that you help them all understand that there is indeed an adjustment period and that this period is “ok.” Goals and relationships do not have to be forced, and for some people, communication styles must be re-adjusted.
I’m sorry that I can’t write more this evening, but it’s been a long and exciting week. If you have any specific questions about what I am experiencing now, please do not hesitate to ask. I will answer in ways that will hopefully assist some of you.
Chris Allen is an Army Officer currently serving in Afghanistan who counsels Soldiers on a volunteer basis and will pursue licensure upon his return. He is passionate about developing counseling practices that best address Veterans and their families. Blog comments are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense.