An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Redeploying, leaving Kandahar?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Douglas Evans
  • 451st Expeditionary Operations Group First Sergeant
January 2010 -- Can you believe another year is upon us? Typically this month would bring thoughts of football, New Year's resolutions and gym memberships. This year, for many of us here at Kandahar Airfield, brings redeployment. More than one half of the 451st Expeditionary Air Wing will redeploy in January. I hope your tour has been rewarding, like mine. Everyone is busy going through their personnel items and sending things home. People are tying up loose ends, giving out coins and saying their goodbyes. What should we be thinking about on our way home?

There are a few things that come to my mind when considering redeployment. The first thing will be the stop at Manas (Transit Center Manas) and having two beers. To sleep in the tent that holds hundreds of people, maybe not, but to know you're almost home, definitely. It is my hope that we will all go home and know that we are blessed beyond belief. People have no idea how much Americans are blessed. The other night, I found a Nerf football, box of pencils, sharpeners, squirt guns and assorted toys in the trash, and they were new. I decided to give them to the kids at the Bazaar, and they appreciated it.
These are some of the things that I have started reflecting on before I leave.

Redeploying is a time to reflect that we are different people now. The positive and negative emotions have sculpted us into hopefully better people. We have done things that the average man on the street has never done. I think we've all had some incredible experiences here. I would hope that we can reflect on our time and be proud of those things that we have accomplished. I hope we will go home knowing that every one of us has made a difference, and we've done our part to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

Now that it is time to go home, be aware that things may have changed during your absence. Be prepared for a transition as you reunite with family and friends.

USAA offers advice: "You're finally home. But returning to family life after a long deployment isn't always as carefree as you might imagine. Readjusting to the 'normal world' can take time, patience and understanding."

Many things in your family may have changed. The first one is your spouse has been independent doing everything without you: cleaning the house, paying bills, entertaining the kids and cooking. While you and your spouse will need to renew your relationship, don't try to romanticize your first day back. Most likely, you'll both be tired and overwhelmed. Recommend you take it slow and take time to get to know each other again and readjust to being home.

Reuniting with your children may take time. It will take time to reestablish familiarity and comfort. Get to know them all over again, and play games or whatever they may want to do. Spend some quality time with each one individually and talk to them about their needs and feelings. Take the time to show your love for them and offer praise for their accomplishments during your absence. Many routines may have changed while you have been away. Respect these new routines because they may be different now since you have been gone. Your children will feel less anxious if you spend time doing activities they enjoy and show approval of their new routines.

When you're spending time with your spouse or your children, don't be surprised if you feel a range of emotions. USAA suggests "you may feel resentful for the long family separation, fear that your spouse may have been unfaithful, or worried that you are no longer needed at home. These feelings are common for many servicemembers."

Returning home may seem overwhelming at times since you can't swipe your meal card to get a meal or drop your laundry off. It is perfectly normal and healthy to ask for assistance. Every Airman should know there are many resources available to them.
Chaplains, First Sergeants, Mental Health, Veterans Administration, private counseling, friends and family are available to talk through these types of issues.

In addition to the emotional process of returning home, there can be some practical challenges that need to be addressed. You may want to review your household budget, investments and insurance needs. Being gone for 120- or 180-days, many things can change. Take it slow and enjoy your time with your family in 2010.

It has been an honor serving with each and every one of you. I hope to have the opportunity to serve with you again. Take some time to reflect and evaluate all the reasons for being thankful. Keep safe and be a good Wingman by encouraging someone.