The transition to normal life can be harder than one would imagine. For me, coming home the first time was, at first, the best time of my life. I didn’t realize the physiological differences in me yet, but my wife did. I didn’t realize that six hours of straight sleep would be a blessing. I hadn’t yet experienced a breakdown, the kind that comes after drinking pain away. I didn’t know that I was a different person inside and out, damaged from sudden and fierce clashes with death. And after redeployment, when reintegration sets in, when comfort and family take the place of war, it’s time to go again, making the years in between feel like hours, and then it all starts over again. Telling your family is almost harder than actually going; maybe it’s because I had to tell them twice; they knew I wasn’t going to get better this go around. Then you come home again. And you expect the sleepless nights, the uncontrollable fit—this time you are already scarred. Now it’s a matter of coping with what lies deep within.
Anonymous. “Homecoming” was written by a UCSB graduate of 2012 who served in the Army from 2001-2008.