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Reconnect with Family Trying to make up for lost time overnight is an exercise in futility that may make matters worse. Go slow as you ease back into your old routine as the process of rebuilding relationships with your spouse, children and extended family can take months. Routines and responsibilities have likely changed in your absence, and new experiences and memories were created. Take time to immerse yourself in your family’s photographs and stories from the time you were gone and share with them as much of your military experience as you’re comfortable with, allowing the whole family to connect and find new bonding experiences. If necessary, parenting and relationship classes and programs are available. Head Back to Work or School If you were in school or employed prior to going on active duty, checking your status with school or your employer can be a good first step toward reintegration. Investigate your educational benefits, including the GI Bill, if you decide to go back to school. Look into unemployment insurance or assistance programs, such as the Transition Assistance Program, if you’re not returning to your former job or were not previously employed. Watch for Signs of PTSD While returning to a normal routine as a civilian takes time, months of anger, rage, isolation or unpredictability may be signs that a former servicemember is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. While rebuilding connections can help alleviate some of the effects of PTSD, it is important to get professional help if you begin to show signs of the disorder – which 11-20 percent of veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom experience, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Local VA hospitals or clinics, as well as the Military Crisis Line (800-273-8255), are among the resources available to veterans dealing with PTSD. For more tips to help veterans re-assimilate into everyday life, visit elivingtoday.com. Tri-Cities Health & Wellness - Winter 2017 | 11

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