Returning Home From Combat Stress3 min read
Returning home from combat is not as easy as many soldiers and military families hope and expect.
Thinking of home feels wonderful: a safe and comfortable place, where things will “sort themselves out”. Many veterans can’t wait to get on the plane and head home, and neither can their relatives. But in the weeks and months ahead, many soldiers face great and unexpected difficulties when they come back to their family and try to adjust to “normal life”.
In the days, weeks or months after returning home from combat, many veterans report that the world seems to stand still, as if in slow motion. They still have the adrenaline rush going and the very thing that often protected their lives, being able to always be alert and on guard, and ready to protect themselves and others, is now working against them. In the beginning, this might feel like a normal adjustment period that can be expected after such a high adrenaline life in theater, but after a while, it often becomes clearer and clearer that the inner pressure, the hyper vigilance, the inner arousal from combat stress doesn’t go away on its own. The high tempo in which the world seems to unfold for these men and women often causes conflicts with the rest of the family, who don’t understand or have difficulty coping with the changes they see in their soldier returning home from combat.
In combat, everybody is the same, going through the stress together, warriors fighting for each other. They don’t need a lot of words to communicate, and they have almost intuitive ways to signal each other that they know and are there if someone needs them. At home, this is a very different situation, and most Veterans feel that nobody understands them, since they haven’t shared the same experiences. So for spouses, it is important to recognize that just the physical change to leave for safer grounds doesn’t make the experiences, the combat stress, the often upsetting, overwhelming and traumatic memories, undone.
At the same time, life at home went on and took its own turn. Spouses managed to cope and raise the kids, new jobs were found, new relationships created. Life at home is simply not what it used to be. This can create great pressure and disappointment, and if military families are not trained and prepared for this, it can cause strain and overwhelm on the marriage and life itself. All of these are natural and common occurrences, and trying to find out whose “fault” it is that things are tough is usually not the right solution.
Remember that after returning home from combat, it is important to recognize and acknowledge each other’s feelings and make sure that healing can happen in a way that feels safe and appropriate for everybody involved. Talking is so much easier when the emotional charge of the often traumatic past is discharged. New coaching techniques can be learned that allow doing exactly that: Instead of focusing on WHY we are angry, we work with THAT we are angry, which releases the charge and allow all parties to relax.
With EFT, we can have an opportunity to help a Veteran “de-stress”, lowering the inner pressure that the soldier feels, and helping him or her to relax.