BLS, not to sound too blue, but this ole Sarge will sum up what went on during my homecoming one warm autumn day in March of last year.
Its not always a cake walk perfect homecoming, and reality often delivers at times the complete opposite of what we thought it would be like. For some that come home, the real battle is only the beginning, as sadly some will end up like I did, adn some worse.
Firstly, I voted for the discreet reunion, but thats just me.
Back in March 2007, our arrival back in Australia was uneventful. We landed in Brisbane on a Strategic Air flight, we just looked like a group of 'short-hairs' that had been down to Sydney for the wknd, in civvies, the only give away was our desert day packs, and our kit bags. No one really had a clue where we had been the past 207 days. We were all very happy to be back in Australia, and in our minds had all those warm happy thoughts which were now, in front of us and reality.
Anyways, the new CO and RSM met us as we came off the ramp thingo, then down to the baggage area where I was met by a good mate (also a vet), and off home to the island I live on. At the airport though, no bands, no flags, or huge welcoming committee (unpopular wars don't generate such welcomes). At home, where my now Ex was, there was her, and her friend Sylvia. We had bangers and mash for my first meal, I swilled CC and ginger if I remember right, and stayed awake all night, shy of a doze on the sofa, then with a trip out to the beach, as the first thing I wanted was to watch the sun rise over the Coral Sea. I went alone, she was sleeping. I promised myself this 5 minute trip to Woorim Beach after a near miss on 21 December 2006.
Home was ueventful also, like an anti-climax, pretty quiet, but my cats were more happier to see me than my Ex. Six days later, she left. My so called best friend let me down when I needed her the most. To me, that loss was just as traumatic as some of the things I expereinced in Iraq, and even now I still feel betrayed and let down. Never again.
Aside from, the BS and the fallout over a totally dysfunctional decompression period, followed by a month in the field, a rather bitter and twisted separation followed by dividing of property, and buying her share out of the house - shock/horror - $267,000 (yes it was paid for, now back in the mortgage game and totally on my own), it was good to be home, or so I thought at the time. My crash and burn was coming. However I did pull through, but big life changes of which I am still adjusting to. I have pretty much adapted and moved on.
My advise, be attentive, but not overly. Listen, accept things if he is a bit distant, and have great communication. Give him his space, show some empathy, and be happy. Don't be negative or sarcastic. Accept he has changed even though he may appear the same at first. Do what he wants to do, and do things together too. Enjoy each other, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, be his best friend. A nice hot bath together, fav music, something to drink, and good conversation. Candles etc. Thats what I would have wanted, instead my whole world ended up imploding, and I am still picking up the pieces, but just the tiny ones now, ha!
My Ex never really understood SFA about my time there, even with explosions in the background on a phone call one day, she still thought we were on a middle eastern vacation. She avoided the regular meetings with other spouses, and kept to herself, and her freakly bohemian lesbian friend. One time after a rather traumatic incident one night, I emailed the selected few of my closest and best friends, and I thought I'd share this with her too. That was a mistake, as I got nothing but a huge blast of shyte from her, claiming she did not apprecaite hearing such graphic and gruesome details, and that I should keep these thoughts and descriptions to myself, saying no one needs to hear that type of thing etc, etc. Here I thought I told the PG rated version at that, and was sharing something personal, which I had to get off my chest.
I never shared any personal times or details of some of the most hair raising times in my life with her after that. She was kept out of the loop after this, and i told her only what she wanted to hear.
It took me over a year to get involved in an ANZAC Day march, and this June the city of Brisbane had a huge parade for us Iraq War Vets, the largest homecoming parade since the end of WWII! I needed that, I think we all did. A good pat on the back, and it really felt good. I was ready for it finally. It had been 14 months.
Good luck with your homecoming BLS, and remember, life is too short.