Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Veterans: What to Expect When You Return from Deployment


Am Fam Physician. 2010 Jul 1;82(1):50-51.

  See related article on care of the returning veteran

Returning from deployment is a time of expectation, excitement, and change. However, many military families find that the reunion can be more stressful than the separation. Many families go through an adjustment period that can last for weeks or even months. Knowing what to expect can make the transition easier.

These are the phases you might go through when you return home:

  • Pre-entry. You may be excited to come home and might spend a lot of time thinking about what things will be like. You plan things to do at home, at work, and with your family.

  • Reunion. This is the “honeymoon” phase just after you come home. It is a time for you to reconnect with people and relax.

  • Disruption. Problems may come up as you realize how much things changed while you were away. Your family may have new routines, and it may take time for you to adjust. You might be surprised that your family managed as well as they did without you, or feel like they don't need you anymore. It is normal to feel envious or resentful during this period.

  • Communication. It is important to talk to your family about how things have changed. You and your family may need to set up new routines. Some things that might need to be discussed are physical changes, finances, decision making, and changes in the relationships with your spouse and children.

  • Normalcy. You and your family accept changes and reestablish routines. Even though there may be problems, this transition often leads to unexpected growth at home and at work.

The following Web sites for veterans and their families have information about returning home after deployment:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics

    Support for Military Children and Adolescents

  • Military K-12 Partners

  • U.S. Army Hooah 4 Health

    Deployment Guide for Families of Deploying Soldiers

The following Web sites for veterans contain health-related information:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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