At any given time our men and women in uniform are away from their loved ones on the holidays, often serving in combat.  When they are finally able to come home, things can be somewhat awkward or uncomfortable for them as well as their loved ones, as they readjust (which can take some time).

I can recall more than one holiday spent with my fellow warriors where we did our best to embrace the mood of the holidays, but it is never the same as being with our families and friends. This presents a particular challenge, especially for those that served in combat zones and likely had little, if any, downtime at all, may or may not have received gifts, cards or well wishes from home, and despite any efforts to make it seem like home – it just isn’t the same.

Though with technology, our troops are now able to interact online in real time, a far cry from earlier times when it would be an extreme stroke of luck to be able to make a MARS call from overseas. Some have only hours and many miles separating them from their brothers and sisters in arms and now find themselves in a different world that they left behind.

It is sometimes a challenge for not only the families, but for the veterans, or active duty military, now home on leave. Probably the most compassionate and sensible action is to not expect them to be as they were in years past. They may seem distant and disinterested in the season and possibly could choose to not totally engage in celebrations. Try to refrain from asking them if they are OK. If they want to share their feelings, they will, and hopefully, in time, they will be able to find a comfort level where they might talk. It is essential that people don’t take any of it personally, instead try to see their point of view and not assume there is something wrong if they seem to isolate themselves or shut down.

In the end, patience, tolerance, and compassion go a long way. They are doing the best they can so just love them for who they are now, not who they used to be.

In the end, there can still be holiday celebrations, just know they will never be the same. One of the most comforting and supportive  comments one can make may be “Welcome home.”

Happy Holidays to all.

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