Easing the Transition

Making Your New Town a Home

Relocating after military service is often one of the biggest changes veterans and their families face. The choice of where to live is a very personal one that can be dictated by job opportunities for you and your spouse, family location, and the economic stability of the area. But what happens once you have decided where you are going? When the time comes to settle in, former military spouses are often faced with not only supporting their spouse through the transition but making their new town a home.

Transitioning to a new location takes time. There are many facets of the change ranging from the practical to the emotional. Unpacking and making your house a home is one of the first practical and often daunting considerations that come to mind. There are ways, however, to face this task head on.

Take it slow, and the process can go from stressful to energizing. Remember that everything does not have to be in its permanent place within the first week. Often it is only through use that the appropriate place for your belongings becomes obvious.

Enlist your family members or friends. You can get more done in a shorter time without having to do it all yourself. This is especially helpful if your spouse has already started their job and you have yet to find one (if you will be working), leaving you to do the majority of the unpacking. You can also listen to music or books on tapes while you unpack. Just remember, no one is judging you by how fast you unpack.

Whether you have gotten settled into your new home or not, you also should also be addressing the emotional/intangible aspects of moving. Part of easing the transition into a new town is having friends in the area. Before your move, ask your friends and relatives if they know anyone in the area. More than likely, they will know someone who can serve as a contact for you in the area.

In addition, don't underestimate the importance of your new neighbors. Don't wait for them to bring brownies to your door. Instead, head to their house and introduce yourself. Another way to meet neighbors is to work in your yard. This attracts neighbors from all over the neighborhood. They will feel much more comfortable approaching you in your yard as opposed to coming to your door.

You can also meet neighbors by joining the neighborhood association or the Homeowner's Association's social clubs. Next-door neighbors themselves can even be your social club. Once you befriend them, they may not only serve as a support system next door, but you could meet a whole new group of friends through them. This network of friends can also help point you in the right direction for doctors, gyms, salons, etc.

Their recommendations can play a large role in helping you with the next step in acclimating to your new home, which is replicating or creating a routine. Part of the human condition is to thrive on routine and knowing what tomorrow will bring. By going to the same grocery store, hair stylist, and dentist, you will establish yourself as part of a neighborhood. If you were a member of gym in your last town, joining a gym can certainly make you feel at home. Also, exercise is a great stress reliever. If the gym isn't your thing, join the neighborhood walking club. You should also explore new hobbies, such as photography or writing or bird-watching, whatever interests you. Going back to school is another excellent way to establish routine and meet people at the same time.

It is difficult to feel comfortable in a town about which you know nothing. So remedy this by joining community organizations and volunteering at the YMCA, the PTA, or at the local hospital. Attending festivals and special events can also help you feel a sense of community. Your local tourism board will also have a plethora of state, regional, and local information available in the form of websites and brochures.

Last, and certainly not least, make sure to care for your marriage through the move and transition. This is an often neglected area that unjustly comes after unpacking and making new friends on the priority list. Make time for dates and surprise each other with thoughtful things. It may sound cheesy, but, if you do nothing else, remember that your spouse is in this with you. You should rely on each other for support and friendship.

Moving to a new place can trigger anxiety, tension, and fear. But taking note of the transition techniques listed above can assuage those feelings and turn the experience into a positive one, resulting in new friends, new interests, and a new home.

Continue to the next topic: Resources for Wounded Veterans

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