Your time away from home has changed you and brought you back a different person. Let’s not kid ourselves-the transition back may not be easy. Things may seem different at home also. You are much like a "dimmer switch" that gradually brightens an otherwise darkened room as you dial up. It is a normal process to shift back slowly into civilian life as you transition away from military life. Remember that. It is not an instant transition, as when you flip a light switch off or on.
For a while, you may experience bumps along the road home. Expect it-plan for it-and do something about it! While many of the adjustments may be simple, others may be more difficult. This is normal. It may take some time.
This booklet is a powerful tool that will equip you to navigate through hurdles-give you pride in what you have done-and help you to accomplish a full return home. This tool, the Reintegration Action Plan (RAP), is your plan of action for returning home and to civilian life. The better you understand the readjustment process and develop an action plan to deal with obstacles, the easier will be your return.
You will experience many things during your time of readjustment. It is important to know that every service member in this conflict and in previous wars has experienced similar issues. You brought back memories of events that are sometimes satisfying and sometimes painful. These memories will shape your thoughts, feelings, and behavior as you try to reestablish relationships with your family and in your community. Many you will want to talk about and share with others. Yet, some of these memories are painful and can become your enemy. There are effective ways to deal with these difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings so that they don’t derail your readjustment.
You may find that you want to talk to someone about problems you are experiencing. This is very common, and there are several ways for you to do that. One way is through building a buddy network. You developed close relationships with your fellow service members. They have been there; they know and understand what you experienced. You are encouraged to develop a buddy network. Meet with other returning service members. keep in touch by phone, and find ways to reach out to others like yourself. Many service members have already found these contacts to be invaluable.
Another way is to seek out readjustment advice through the VA Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics, and Vet Centers. These are located throughout the state (see Other Resources for Support, Page 48). The services of the Vet Centers are free and easy to obtain (in Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery). There are services and resources also available throughout your community with individuals who have been trained to be aware of the issues of returning service personnel and their families. These services are often covered in whole or part through TRICARE. A list of resources is found at the end of this booklet. Take advantage of them; you earned the right.
Read the material in the RAP, begin to develop an Action Plan, and get your Buddy List developed. If you need to reach out for additional help, call the 24/7 Helpline at Military OneSource, 1-800-342-9647, 1800-346-9188 TTY, or 1-877-888-0727 En Espanol. Dial United Way’s 211 via landline for community service needs. Additional resources can be found in the back of this booklet. If you are in crisis, use the numbers on the back of this booklet.