It isn't easy.
American Red Cross volunteer Rick Fuhrman understands. A retired school psychologist, Fuhrman is a military veteran who seeks to ease the transition back to civilian life.
"Stress improves a soldier's performance, but prolonged stress can lead to physical and emotional problems," he said.
With Fuhrman's help, Snohomish County Red Cross is offering small, supportive and confidential workshops for veterans, and active duty and reserve military personnel, including National Guard members and military families.
The local Red Cross's first Reconnection Workshop is set for Wednesday evening at the Red Cross office in Everett.
Repeated deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world often make coming home as challenging as the tour of duty, Fuhrman said. Families then have similar stress reactions -- emotional, spiritual, physical -- to the stories they hear about their loved one's deployment.
"Generally families just need to use their coping skills," Fuhrman said. "It's like the briefing the flight attendant gives after you're settled on the plane. If something happens, put on your air mask first."
Many people previously took Fuhrman's Coping with Deployments workshop, which offered what Fuhrman calls "psychological first aid" for military families.
In the Reconnection Workshop, Fuhrman plans to deal with a variety of issues that many military families have when a deployment ends and a sailor or soldier comes home.
These include reestablishing bonds with spouses and children, readjusting to partners who assumed new family roles during the separation, redefining family routines and managing health problems that may be present after deployment. These health issues include traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Other topics include clear communication, working through anger and relating to children.
Fuhrman, 66, a Red Cross volunteer since 1978, logged 42 years with Army, mostly in the reserves. He also is a member of the Snohomish County critical incident stress management team to benefit emergency services personnel.
"We're very fortunate to have Rick Fuhrman leading these workshops," said Bev Walk, who is the Northwest Regional director of Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces. "We hope to offer this workshop again and in other locations so that many people can get the encouragement and help that they need."
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Cross Reconnection Workshop, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, third-floor classroom, Red Cross office, 2530 Lombard Ave., Everett. To register for the free, small-group workshop, email Service to the Armed Forces Northwest Washington director Bev Walker at email@example.com or call 425-740-2320 and leave a message.
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