By Julie Provost
Homecoming, the day your spouse comes home from deployment, the day you have been waiting for, is finally here. You are nervous, excited, and a little worried about making a homecoming mistake. Here are some to be aware of and to help you plan your homecoming day.
1. Posting dates on Facebook
When you have your homecoming date, you finally know when the deployment will be over. It’s only natural that you would want to tell everyone. You want to share this news and your countdown on social media. . . but you can’t. At least not without breaking OPSEC. You are not allowed to post-deployment dates or countdowns. If you do, things could be delayed, and you could put your spouse’s unit in danger. Keep your countdowns to yourself.
2. Not dressing for the weather
Don’t make the mistake of not dressing for the weather. If homecoming is in the middle of summer, wear something cool that won’t make you too hot. You could be waiting for a long time. . . and there might not be any air conditioning. You don’t want to turn into a sweaty mess right before you see your spouse. If they are coming home in the middle of winter, wear something that will keep you warm– and don’t forget to bring a coat. You don’t want to be waiting to see their plane land and be too cold to enjoy the moment.
3. Not planning for the kids
Make sure to plan for your children. Find out if the homecoming location has an area for them to play. Some places have a kid room or have toys to keep them entertained. Bring extra diapers, a change of clothes, snacks, and even your stroller. If you have to wait a long time, you will want to be prepared for anything. If you feel like your children cannot handle this, consider having them stay with a friend or family member and have their reunion later on.
4. Assuming the first date is the final date
Don’t assume that the first homecoming date you get is the final date. Most likely that date will change. . . multiple times. Anything from broken aircraft to inclement weather can change the homecoming date. Assume that it will change until you get that final call with the exact time they will be there, and even then, be prepared to wait.
5. Not following directions
The command will give you all the information you need to know. They will tell you where to go, where to park, and what time to be there. Listen to them. They will tell you what the process will be like and when you will be free to take your service member home. In some cases, you will get a few minutes with them and then have to wait a couple hours while they turn in their equipment before they are free to go. Don’t assume you can bypass that and show up where you want and when you want. You have to follow the rules.
6. Thinking life will go back to normal
Homecoming is an exciting time. There are so many picture perfect moments from that day. The kisses, the hugs, and the cute signs all make this day look like a glorious one. And for a lot of people, this day is a beautiful day. It’s super important to remember that the end of a deployment means a lot of change. The spouse has been alone for months, and they have changed. The service member has been in a war zone, and they have changed. Each couple will have to work through those changes and some of them can be quite difficult. Don’t assume that life will go back to the way it was when they left. Deployment changes people.
Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.