Returning home for a soldier who's been in a combat environment, or even just in theater, can be a difficult transition. Those who suffer the emotional scars of battle have to deal with re-acclimating themselves to the normal grind of daily life, and even those (like myself) who didn't have to experience any horrific events also have to relearn how to interact with a civil society.
Last weekend, I was briefed on the different signs and symptoms that I and my fellow soldiers could exhibit upon returning to the States. Some might be some signs of irritability or lethargy, while more significant signs like isolation and suicidal thoughts are also likely to fight their way into the forefront of one's mind. The clinical physician who briefed us referred to these symptoms as "mental insurgents."
Just as we have been fighting a group of insurgents on the battlefield, leaving this environment leads to a new enemy combatant that must be fought in order to preserve our ability to function in society. Regardless of what a soldier experienced over here, it is significantly different from the lifestyle he or she leads back home. As a result, it's a matter of slowly transitioning from a hostile environment to a civil one that could lead to the deterioration of one's mental and emotional well-being. This is something I myself must be consciously aware of a guard against. Small things like being a busy restaurant, or getting stuck in a traffic jam could trigger a reaction that leads to self-destructive behavior. While I'm confident that my faith and the support from my family will aid in re-integration, there are many who do not have these forms of assistance. In addition to praying for the safe return of my fellow soldiers, I ask that you also pray for their mental and emotional recovery from being in theater. This can be just as important to the overall well-being of our military personnel AND their families.