Tough transition to civilian life for some returning soldiers after war

Warm welcome for several local service members

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Treasure Coast U.S. Army soldier serving in Afghanistan for more than a year has returned to south Florida. 

Army Sgt. First Class Mark Tatasciore was among a handful of service members making their way through Palm Beach International Airport Wednesday evening. The transition back to civilian life, though, can be a challenge for some.

After 14 months serving in Afghanistan, Tatasciore was back in the arms of his loved ones. 

"I appreciate everybody," said Tatasciore, who lives in Port St. Lucie with his wife, Megan.  "It's great to see my beautiful wife, my awesome family friends, all my loved ones." 

Tatasciore is now a world away from any combat, thrown suddenly back into the world he left more than a year ago.

Boca Raton clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Laurence Miller often treats returning service members who can not wait to get home.

 "What he's going to need next is just sometime to decompress," said Miller. The drastic change can be tough for some soldiers to handle so quickly. "When the party goers are gone, this guy is going to need a little time to be by himself and relax and chill out and get back into normal life," he said.

Tatasciore's mother, Donna Kolo, knows the transition will not take place overnight.

"He may not be jumping up and down for joy even though he feels it in his heart," she said before her son came through the terminal at PBIA.

Tatasciore had been serving as a chemical operation technician since last spring, his second tour in the Middle East.  He said he would take a few weeks off before returning to work as a firefighter and EMT with Martin County Fire Rescue. 

"It's like a dream, like I just woke up from a dream," said Tatasciore.  "It's overwhelming."

Overwhelmed now, but he and his wife say Tatasciore will be ready to live his live here at home. 

"It's what I signed up for, it's what he wants," said Megan Tatasciore.  "I really feel like after these deployments there nothing that we can't do together," she said.

Dr. Miller said one of the keys to a successful transition back to civilian life is for the returning service member to go at his or her own pace. Family and friends should communicate with him or her to recognize if and when they need more time to slip back into their 'normal' lives.

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