Time Off Work After Redeployment: How Much?


Over a year ago, I wrote a post about some proposed legislation which would require employers to give military spouses and parents time off when their service member is about to leave for a deployment. I thought about that old post (in reverse) when the following question landed in our mailbox:

I am in desperate need of some advice from veteran military spouses! My husband has been overseas (deployed) since March and should be returning this coming November, which is getting super close!!! However, I am a preschool director and a school teacher. I will clearly be taking time off when he returns, but I’m having trouble knowing just how long is a good amount of time to ask off?! How long do most women take away from jobs when their husbands return from a deployment? I don’t want to overstep boundaries or take advantage, but I need to give my husband and I the time we need to readjust!

It’s a tricky question because everyone’s situation is different. Sometimes our spouses spend a portion of the first few days back turning in equipment and taking care of other post-deployment issues, so they may not be home all that much. On the other hand, sometimes they immediately start leave and don’t have to return to work for a while. But perhaps more important than whether your spouse will be around enough to justify taking leave from work right away is the fact that everyone’s family dynamic is different. Reintegration can be a beast, but talking with your spouse and planning ahead of time can help minimize the negative aspects of reintegration.

I recently talked to an Army Wife who said she takes homecoming day and the day after off, goes back to work on the third day and then a few days later she takes a week of leave. Part of that week is spent on a mini-vacation somewhere away from home, friends and family. It’s their time to reconnect as a couple and focus on the emotional and physical aspects of their marriage. She explained that this routine gives her husband some time alone to adjust to being back at the house without them smothering one another immediately upon his return, therefore they’re less likely to get on each other’s nerves in the early stages of reintegration. For them, this makes for a less stressful transition.

Congrats on almost having this deployment behind you, V. I would say that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. It all depends on what your expectations and needs are as a couple. I would suggest discussing it beforehand. Talk about each of your expectations and how you would prefer to spend the first few days/weeks upon his return. That should help with your decision on how much time off from work you should take, and whether you should take it immediately or take it a little later.

What’s your post-deployment routine? Have you had to experiment to get it right? What has worked for your family and what hasn’t been that successful?

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • denise

    when my husband came home he had the first day off and then 7 half days of going into work for the reintegration process. so i took off for that week of his half days.

  • I have to drive from Kansas City to Fort Polk for my husband’s return from Afghanistan. So he’s going to call me with about 2 days notice and I’m hitting the road. It’ll take me 1-2 days each way. I’m taking as much paid time off as I’ve built up at my job for the trip, so I think I’ll get about 5-7 days with my husband before having to return home.

  • For Canadian military, when out troops coem home they are *often* required to work 3 half-days, which gives their peers a chance to assist with the re-integration and look for any quirks, to put it gently. It also gives them a more gentle transition back to being on home soil, while still partially connected to the environment they have been immersed in for so long.
    Personally, my honey likes to have 3-4 days on his own to sort his crap (mentally as well as physically) and get himself re-grounded, so I usually wait a week or so before we are together 24/7
    I strongly agree that it is different for every family/relationship – does your loved one need to spend time with their parents? Do you want to be part of that or not? How long do they get off total before returning to work – would 2 shorter periods work better, with some time between?
    Every situation, and every deployment (hello, snowflakes!) will be different.