How Can We Support Returning Veterans and their Families?

Reunion, Reintegration, Resilience

Returning Soldier
Soldier Returning from Service

Today there are nearly two million children who have a parent in the military.  More than 900,000 military children have had a parent deploy multiple times.  In addition to the military-related stressors of multiple moves and schools, children also have had to deal with long-term, multiple deployments and separations from one, or both, parents.

But now with the drawdown of our military forces and fewer deployments, many of these service member parents are coming home. Coming home.  What does “coming home” mean to these children?  What does coming home mean to the daily rhythms of family life?  How does family resilience plan a role in reintegration?

There’s been months of anticipation and counting the days.  Birthdays have come and gone, holidays have been celebrated and missed and all of the normal, day-to-day ups and downs in a family’s daily routine have somehow managed to take place while mom or dad was deployed.  But now the service member is coming home.  What does that mean for the family?

Reintegration means that families need to take time and take stock of what it means to be a family.  Mom, dad and the kids need to tap into the programs available to them that will help them gain a renewed sense of their roles, develop a sense of belonging to a new family unit, and nurture their own resilience.

In her recent web conference on the Military Families Learning Network, Balancing Work and Family: Building Military Family Resilience, Angela Wiley, Associate Professor of Applied Family Studies and Extension Specialist, University of Illinois, defined resilience as “a dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity.” She said that families can benefit from, as well as contribute to, a network of relationships and resources in their communities.  Dr. Wiley pointed to the importance of developing new routines, new traditions, new celebrations and expanded social support systems.

Resources for returning veterans and their families

As veterans and their families re-start their lives, finding new jobs and starting new careers plays a critically important role in reintegration.

Hire a Soldier
Hire a Soldier
  • Joining Forces is one of former President Obama’s initiatives to encourage the public to give service members and their families the support and opportunities they need and have earned through their service to our country.  Whether this re-start means creating new routines and developing new family traditions, or is complicated by finding ways to adjust to permanent injuries or other hardships, Joining Forces has created resources specifically designed to help veterans translate their military skills into the civilian workforce.  The Obama Administration has intentionally partnered with corporations and businesses to make it easier for veterans to connect with companies that are ready to hire them and help them re-start their lives.
  • Google for Veterans was developed by and for veterans, as well as the families of veterans and friends who work at Google.  There are tools for reconnecting, restarting and transitioning to civilian life.
  • Veterans Education and Transition Services or “VETS” incorporates academics, institutional access, student involvement and research, not only to support the success of enrolled student veterans, but to understand their experiences more authentically and maintain a program that is effective and dynamic.
Soldier with Yellow Ribbon
Soldier with Yellow Ribbon
  • Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a comprehensive program that creates awareness for the purpose of connecting service members and their families with community support, training, services and resources.
  • RecruitMilitary is a veteran-owned firm dedicated to helping you achieve your dreams: education, veteran jobs and civilian careers, new business and franchise ownership, training, and much more.
  • Vet Jobs Why hire veterans?  Quite simply, veterans make the best employees!  The U.S. military is the world’s largest technical training school with over 220 occupational specialties.   Veterans represent the most highly trained, technically capable, verifiable, diverse and teamwork oriented work force in the world.  At VetJobs, veterans can find employment assistance, post a resume and search open positions—over 44,00 open jobs are listed!

Now it’s your turn. Tell us your story in the comments section below. Are you a returning veteran or have you worked with a returning veteran? Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share?

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