Virginia Wounded Warrior Program - Home of Virginia's Veterans and Their Family of Supporters

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Family & Friends

When They Come Home

Military Service is a family affair. Deployments and long separations can take a toll on everyone. If your loved one was injured that may even compound things. As a friend or family member of a veteran, you might be surprised, disappointed, and even frustrated by how hard it is to offer support – or to find it for yourself. Where do you begin?

What To Expect

It can be hard to know what a veteran went through while deployed – especially if they don’t want to talk about it. Upon arriving home, the majority of service members successfully reintegrate with the lifestyle they left behind before serving in a war zone. Almost all service members do experience some form of stress reactions during their first few weeks at home and that is normal.
The following are behaviors that family and friends may observe:

  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Bad dreams or nightmares
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Anger or Irritability
  • Flashbacks or reoccurrence of unwanted memories
  • Avoidance of large crowds or appearance of being withdrawn
Refer to the references below to learn more.

While these reactions are considered normal they should resolve within six to eight weeks after your loved one returns home. If these behaviors do not resolve or improve; if they start to interfere with activities of daily living, family or social relationships or their ability to work, help may be needed. Remember you are not alone and help is just a phone call or E-mail away. Asking for support is a sign of strength and determination. 

The Caregiver Support Line has licensed clinical social workers available to answer your questions, listen to your concerns and directly link you to the Caregiver Support Coordinator at your local VA Medical Center: 1-855-260-3274.


Guidance Resources:

Action Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center(DVBIC)Studies

Tramatic Brain Injury - (TBI)

Learn more:

  • Understanding post traumatic stress symptoms

  • Center for Deployment Psychology’s On-Line Trainings Related to Families - This interactive online training provides some general information regarding resilience in families, specifically how to increase resiliency in couples and children negotiating the challenge of deployment.
  • Understanding TBI - 29 minute video - Introduced by General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), provides an overview of traumatic brain injury (TBI). It features the recovery journeys of several service members and their families.

  • Wounded Warrior Family Guide (PDF) can help you navigate through the recovery process if your loved one is injured. The guide contains advice for families and caregivers; information on the Service Wounded Warrior programs; travel and lodging; legal and money matters; keeping a medical journal; and much more.

  • The families section of - includes wellness resource for military families. It includes assessments, videos, polls, educational information and more.

  • Sesame Workshop - Talk, Listen, Connect - includes videos, Sesame Family Connections and more.

  • MilitaryHOMEFRONT - the Department of Defense website for official Military Community and Family Policy program information, policy and guidance designed to help troops and their families, leaders and service providers.

  • My HELPList - a list of links to many support agencies, programs, etc. to support Warrior families in tough economic times.

  • Everyone Serves - A electronic Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members during Pre-Deployment, Deployment and Reintegration.

  • Family-Informed Trauma Treatment (FITT) Center, University of Maryland - goal is to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate theoretically sound, family-based interventions for urban and military families to support positive outcomes for children and families who have experienced chronic trauma and stress.

  • Operation Purple Program - hear "Operation Purple camp" you should think: Kids Serve Too! The National Military Family Association's Operation Purple camps are a time for having fun, making friends, and reminding military kids that they are the Nation's youngest heroes.

  • Hope For The Warriors - a national nonprofit organization that supports wounded U.S. service members, their families, and families of the fallen. They now have a spouse/caregiver scholarship to identify, recognize and reward exceptional spouses/caregivers for their strength fidelity and resolve despite adversity and to aid in their continued education at a reputable, accredited college or trade school as they assume critical roles in the financial well being of their families. Download application.

Other website links:

Department of Virginia Veterans Services | 1-877-285-1299 | 900 East Main Street-6th Floor, West Wing | Richmond, VA 23219 | | Site Map | VWWP Web Policy