January 3, 2011
When your soldier returns from a deployment or training, it can be an overwhelming experience for all involved. There are many emotions wrapped up in the day from joy and excitement to fear and anxiety. And it's all normal. In order to make the day go smoothly for all, it can help to follow a few tips as well as lay out a few ground rules for everyone who will be present.
- Find out from your soldier who he wants to be there. Ultimately, this is his day and he should have anyone there who he wants to be there. If he wants his high school football team to be there to welcome him, do your best to accommodate that. Where things get tricky is when he decides he doesn't want everyone there and you get to deliver the news. If at all possible, have him do it or have him make the decision before he leaves so he can deliver the news in person to all involved.
- If he does want to see everyone, decide about the timeline involved. Perhaps he'll have dinner with everyone and then return home for time with his immediate family. Or maybe he'll go straight home and have a get together with extended family the following day. Be up front with those involved and encourage them to abide by his wishes in the matter.
- Have the camera ready. If possible, ask a friend to come along to take pictures. You don't want to be missing out on hugs and welcoming him home just to take a few pictures. By enlisting the help of others, they will be able to get all of the exciting shots captured including your faces when you first see each other again.
- Stock the fridge with his favorite foods and beverages and make sure that he can have a hot shower with a clean towel and nice, warm sheets in a comfortable bed when he returns. Many just want some down time when they return from overseas so be prepared to just chill out and not do a lot of activities or be surrounded by a lot of people when he first returns.
All of these things can lead to a happy homecoming for your soldier. If all else fails, make sure you follow the wishes of your soldier. It is his day and it should be made about him and what he wants. Enjoy!