What to Look For |
What to Do |
What to Avoid
What to Expect |
Reintegration for Marines and their families is often an emotionally-charged process based on various expectations – realistic or otherwise. There is a crucial need for accurate and timely return and reunion information and education, but this is not always provided to both the spouse and Marine in a timely fashion.
It is essential that Marines are given the required return and reunion education and decompression time to give them realistic expectations and allow them to ease into their new environment back home. Without this, they may come home and immediately go on extended leave, completely unprepared for the difficulties that face most returning Marines. The result can be dissatisfaction, disillusionment, depression, or domestic violence.
Spouses' anticipation of the Marine's return home is often riddled with many emotions and expectations. A successful reintegration process can be marked by spouses and Marines who have similar, realistic expectations and who are considerate and understanding of each other's emotional needs. This may seem like an unrealistic goal, but with proper Return and Reunion support, this can be achieved. Conversely, the return and reunion may be highly stressful. As the return and reunion approaches, you can expect the following and more from the spouses:
Increased number of calls to FRO or KVN regarding return information of unit. Spouses will begin planning reunion scenarios well in advance of the actual unit return date. They are thinking about it, deciding what they are going to wear, what they need to accomplish, etc. before their Marine returns. This can happen as early as six weeks prior to the return.
- Providing proactive Return and Reunion
services could involve tasks such as offering printed reintegration materials, coordinating a unit homecoming event, coordinating a “Return and Reunion Brief for
Spouses”,sign making parties, and more. The benefits of providing services and information to spouses include reducing stress and emotional strain, promoting unit friendships and bonding, as well as giving the spouses the core education they need to have realistic expectations and better cope with their Marine's return.
- It is also essential that the Marine be given the required Return and Reunion education and decompression time to give them realistic expectations and allow them to ease into their new environment back home. Without this, they may come home and immediately go on extended leave, completely unprepared for the difficulties that face most returning Marines. The result can be dissatisfaction, disillusionment, depression, domestic violence, or worse. The Return and Reunion process is very important.
- Marine with family seems unfocused on the mission approaching and upon return
- Marine seems worried or frustrated with family problems
- Marine spends more time than expected trying to communicate with his family during the workday
- Marine seems frustrated, angry, or despondent after communicating with family
- Marine seems reluctant to go home
- Family contacts unit expressing frustration with situation
As a leader, you will have to do what is right for the entire unit, but if one of your Marines is having more trouble than the rest as return and reunion approaches and occurs, you will have to take them aside and help them out so they don't affect the readiness of the rest of the unit. Here are some things you can do:
- Not communicating to the families what the return dates are, what the realistic release date/time will be for liberty, what the realistic work schedule will be for the Marines once back (will there be decompression time, limited leave situation?) and who is the ultimate POC for that info.
- Not planning the Return and Reunion For Spouses 30 days in advance of the return. You may want to offer a second brief for those who are not able to attend the first. Your local MCFTB staff can assist you.
- Not offering the Return and Reunion Guide For Marines
- Not coordinating all aspects of Warrior Transition for the Marines.
Most Marines and families will respond positively to unit leaders taking an interest in their problems if it is done with their best interests in mind.
Families who are better prepared, emotionally, to reintegrate with their Marine.
Spouse stress levels will be reduced.
Happier, smoother transition for families.
Realistic expectations by both Marines and spouses.
- Fewer family violence, risky behavior incidents.
- Not enough time to plan/coordinate/provide Return and Reunion curriculum.
Establishing an estimated date for Return and Reunion activities should be done even before the unit deploys and should be integrated as part of the overall deployment timeline. Rear party personnel are able to coordinate Return and Reunion briefs, homecoming events and materials distribution with the help of the local MCFTB staff. It is recommended to provide two briefs 30 days in advance of the return of the unit. The brief should be presented at different times of the day and possibly on a weekend to allow maximum participation.
- Financial strain.
Families who are not educated on the pay changes that will occur once a Marine returns home are at risk for financial problems. A simple information sheet distributed as part of the unit newsletter or under separate cover can help prevent many problems. Families may not realize that their pay may change dramatically and their spending pattern will change once their Marine is back.
The spouses will be under extra stress as a result of a change. Any change – good or bad – creates stress. To help the spouses cope, provide them opportunities to meet with other spouses, learn more about how to adjust to the return of their Marine, inform them as best you can on when the Marines will return and what they can expect the work schedule will be. All these Return and Reunion activities – briefs, parties, homecoming-events will help spouses cope better.