Author: Fatima Yusuf (Summer Intern)
When soldiers return home, they can have a a joyous yet, sometimes a stressful time adjusting to their new life after service. While most military families are excited to see their beloved ones return from deployment, many are faced with the challenges of rebuilding relationships within their homes and community.
The American Red Cross in partnership with Walmart has been providing “Reconnection Workshops” for military families allowing for positive reunions for military families and their returning deployed military loved ones.
The workshops are free and are run by actively licensed and specially trained Red Cross mental health volunteers. Topics that are discussed include: managing anger, supporting children, post traumatic stress disorder, building communication, and other topics critical to reunion adjustment. This workshop is a complement of the “Red Cross Coping with Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families” program which focuses on building resiliency and coping with challenges of the deployment cycle. Both programs have shown a remarkable amount of progress in providing service members and their families a tool to grow in terms of their relationships. The workshop in all it’s glory demonstrates how a positive environment to communicate can lead a long way in comforting our service members as they return back to their beloved homeland.
Tobrin Hewitt, Service to the Armed Forces Program Manager of the American Red Cross Gold Country Region shared his perspective on the program in an interview:
- Why is the “Reconnection Workshop” a program families should consider during the return of deployed military family members?
“A lot of service members return home from deployments and successfully readjust to their lives and within their community; however, some solders have a harder time transitioning back from the high tempo of a deployment. Some of the challenges that service members face include readjusting to their partners, engaging children, redefining the family routine, and managing health problems that can be present after deployment.”
- What is the most rewarding part of the program for most families?
“The tools that service members gain from these workshops which are instrumental in rebuilding positive relationships with their own families and society.”
- How is the program usually run and what can attendees expect from a session?
“The workshops are small groups (3-12) and they are 90 minutes long. One of five topics that will be discussed will be selected based on the needs of the individual group during each specific workshop session. Some important topics include communicating clearly, exploring stress and trauma, identifying depression, relating to children, and working through anger.”
- Is there anything crucial that the attendees should consider or prepare for before they attend a session?
“The workshops are geared towards participation so including service members personal experiences helps towards the overall effectiveness of the workshop.”
The workshop is available to all service members and their family members interested in seeking post-deployment support.