Helping Soldiers Adjust Back To Civilian Life

Jonesboro, AR -- Terry Farmer served overseas for seven months in 2003.

He was a member of a critical care air transport team.  In other words he saw the worst of the worst when it comes to injuries on the battlefield.

"For us to come and get you, you had to be dying," said Farmer.

It's that type of situation that may start a whole new war within.

"There's just horror of war that will stay with us for the rest of our lives and we don't bring them up unless we're with our comrades or the people we were serving with," said Farmer.

"Give them time and let them tell us what they need," said Bill Smith, LCSW, Manager of Clinical Services at St. Bernards Behavioral Health Unit.

Smith says he believes individuals will cope with stressful situations like being in a war zone differently.  He adds that just letting soldiers know they are supported and appreciated can boost morale significantly.

"The better our support systems are, the more acclimated we are to adjusting quicker.  Of course, you have to look at the situations that may have occurred for some individuals," said Smith.

For those soldiers who are willing to share experiences or talk about their feelings Smith says often times the best thing family and friends can do is just listen.

"Listen to what they are asking us to do, listen to what they are requesting, and give them that time," said Smith.

Perhaps that time will allow them to open up even more--but if they can't ---Smith says honor their request.

"Sometimes they have a group of people who they feel comfortable talking about certain things and to continue to persist and get people to talk about certain things, I wouldn't recommend that," said Smith.

Upon Terry's return to his wife and kids he realized picking up life where he left off isn't easy.

"You're normal life has changed, you know, you've been gone a year or better.  You're significant other has assumed all the roles so when you get home you have to redefine these roles," said Smith.

Terry farmer adds communication is key......

"That's the first thing my wife said, let's sit down and talk and if you can't talk to me talk to someone you were deployed with," said Farmer.

Terry says the transition back into civilian life was not always easy, but he says a simple thank you and a good support system will make the road back to a life they once knew a little smoother.