Spouse Reunion Briefings

 

Written by Sgt. Scott Faddis

Published January 27, 2004

   

During the next few months over 1,000 Utah National Guard soldiers will be returning home from being deployed over seas.  Many soldiers will return to spouses and families that have adapted while the soldier was away.  Reunion briefings help prepare the soldiers and their spouses to deal with the changes that took place while the soldier was away.       

This two-hour briefing is for the spouses to discuss, “the reaction of the families will be after they have been separated and they find out that everything has changed.  The wives change, the husbands change, and now the need to realize what the changes are,” said Master Sgt. Ronald V. Linton, state family coordinator.   

The briefing discusses how to recognize that there will be stress associated with the reunion and identifies probable areas of stress.  For example, “The wife has been in charge of the checkbook and paying the bills and the husband comes home and wants to take back over those duties,” said Linton. 

This briefing also “helps them understand the changes.  They have expectations of what is going to happen when that soldier gets home.  They have expectations about how great it’s going to be, and maybe it’s not,” said Linton.  The expectations and fantasies are both normal and healthy.  The briefing discusses that, but also prepares the spouses for the fact that the expectations and the reality of what will happen are not the same.     

The soldier and the spouse do not always have the same expectations.  “The wife is expecting that the soldier is going to come home, and they will go out and have a nice meal.  The soldier is thinking that a nice home cooked meal would be a nice thing for a change,” said Linton.  “There is an adjustment; she wants one thing, he wants another, and they have to realize that and say ‘okay tonight we will have a nice home cooked meal for you, but tomorrow night we are going to go out.’” 

The briefing also talks about some issues that can happen with the kids.  The soldier is expecting the kids to come running up to them and jump in their arms, but sometimes the kids will be very shy.  “They don’t know you and they have changed to,” said Linton.  It is important for the families to be prepared for that possibility, and then work to reestablish their relationships.

Every soldier that has been deployed will receive a reunion briefing, but it also important for the spouses to receive the briefing.  The briefing helps to explain many issues that will arise during the reunion process.  Besides the soldiers and spouses briefing, the family support coordinators will set up a third type of briefing/workshop that brings both the soldier and their spouse together to discuss issues of reunion.  More information is available at www.ut.ngb.army.mil/family.