When Third Infantry soldiers left for war last fall, families had to adjust to their absence. Now that most are back home, loved ones are adjusting to their return. And thousands of soldiers are going through counseling to help them with the process. WTOC spent time with one soldier and spouse, who said it can be as small as sharing a closet or as big as buying homes and disciplining children, but by most accounts, the transition from the battlefield to the home front can be a very difficult one.
Sgt. Kevin Hilton spent his months in Iraq eager to come back home. He didn't remember how hard the return would be.
"I had to ease my way back into family life," he said. "My kids would do things a certain way and I had to get used to them doing it."
His wife, Tina, commanded the home and three kids for ten months in his absence. Now she must share authority. She says, with years in the army, they're faring better than others she knows.
"I've got one friend in that frame of mind," she said. "Her and her husband came home two months ago, two months and she's getting to the point, he's just irritating me. All I can tell her is you've got to talk."
After the honeymoon of a homecoming from deployment, American military now see counselors to adjust. During the ten days of mandatory decompression sessions--or DCSs--soldiers discover it's not abnormal to feel awkward or like a stranger in their own home.
"They suddenly shift from being always on guard to being civilized and loving and caring and respectful," explained trauma expert Dr. Charles Figley.
Jasmine Hilton is now old enough to carry and buckle little sister Miranda. Sgt. Hilton says the sight scared him last week, but it's just one more thing he realized has changed while he was gone. He says after several deployments, he and his wife have adjusted to how their roles change from combat to peacetime.