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8 Military Homecoming Tips

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1. "Semper Gumby" (be flexible).

Be flexible about the plans you make surrounding homecoming; things can change at a moment’s notice. Expect change, and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised when your service member arrives right on time or the homecoming happens just like you planned.

2. Communicate.

Does your service member want a big party? Does he want time with just immediate family? Does he want to hang at home for a few weeks, or does he want to travel and have a special homecoming vacation? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. The important thing is that you communicate and decide together.

3. The outfit isn’t everything.

The adage of "hurry up and wait" defines homecomings, so you could be doing a lot of standing around, possibly outside in the elements, for an unknown amount of time. Even though you want to "dress to impress," remember to dress for the weather and try to be comfortable.

4. Keep your expectations realistic.

Sometimes, awaiting family members have a list a mile long that they feel needs to be accomplished in order to plan the perfect homecoming. While it is understandable to want your service member to return to a comfortable nest, don’t overstress yourself. Choose a few meaningful tasks and focus your energy on those.

5. Expect a range of emotions in children.

It is difficult to predict how a child is going to react at homecoming. Small children in particular might be frightened, nervous, or anxious. Military homecomings are often accompanied by loud noises and unfamiliar faces. Because homecomings can vary in length and change unexpectedly, pack snacks, drinks, and small toys to keep your children occupied and happy.

6. Lean on your friends.

Friends can help you overcome your pre-homecoming jitters, and many spouses recommend enlisting the aid of a friend for the homecoming event itself. Friends can be your photographers, keep you company, wrangle the kids, and be there in case of a delay.

7. Avoid "keeping up with the Joneses."

Refrain from judging yourself or comparing yourself to other spouses, families, or parents. Trust that you know what’s best for your family.

8. Enjoy.

Homecoming is a very special event. While there are many things to try to remember, allow yourself to live and enjoy the experience.

This excerpt is provided courtesy of the acclaimed free digital resource "Everyone Serves." Download your free copy with additional media content today at

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Everyone Serves is a free resource developed by experts both inside and outside government – and military family members themselves to help the family, friends and support network of service members better manage the deployment and reintegration process. It helps build resilience, strengthens relationships, teaches coping strategies, and prepares you to manage reunion and reintegration. Download today for a great resource that gives you the tools to keep your family strong before, during and after deployment.