“Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life After Deployment”
By Bret A. Moore and Carrie H. Kennedy
American Psychological Association
Washington, D.C., 2011
Self-help guide one of the best of its kind
Reviewed by James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D
Military psychology encompasses many areas but none more valuable than supporting service personnel returning home from deployment. The authors of “Wheels Down” are experienced Army and Navy veterans, both psychologists who are at the forefront of helping women and men preparing for and going through the transition stateside. It is an exemplary self-help book that deserves the widest attention.
The first chapter in the book sets the tone for coming home by tempering expectations with what the “real world” is likely to offer. The reader is encouraged to have a transition plan that, among many things, establishes a routine, sets boundaries with family and friends and keeps a watchful eye on proper sleep, travel and alcohol consumption. The authors also suggest that concerned returnees should not hesitate to make contacts with military and civilian support services.
Chapters 2-8 cover adjustment problems that many service personnel experience post-deployment: controlling anger, sleeping comfortably, managing finances, getting reacquainted with a spouse and containing addictive behaviors such as gambling and substance use. These chapters are noteworthy for providing many step-by-step, problem solving suggestions. Accordingly, most readers will be able to implement a self-help plan and, if needed, find resources that fortify their efforts.
In chapters 9-15 the authors consider other post-deployment conflicts, namely dealing with the grief of losing a comrade, coping with having taken the life of another person, understanding posttraumatic stress disorder and recognizing suicidal and self-harming risk factors. As I read these chapters, I was struck by their genuine sensitivity and the health-seeking advice born of evidence-based practices. These chapters alone define the high quality of the book.
Finally, the book has an informative appendix that contains Internet resources for children, families, service members and mental health professionals. I took the time to access several of them and can attest that they are reputable and professionally maintained sites.
I never served in the military but have worked therapeutically with several veterans. “Wheels Down” is the best self-help book of its kind, easily a stand-alone guide filled with practical and reasoned tips for managing life after deployment. Beyond its no-nonsense flavor, the book also shines by showing how much military psychology has advanced in understanding and shaping the post-deployment lives of service personnel. If you are a clinician seeing returning military women and men, you owe it to yourself to read the book and make it available to them.
James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA, is senior vice president, applied research, clinical training and peer review at the May Institute in Norwood, Mass.
By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D