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“Depending on where you go and what you’re exposed to and what you’ve been involved in, your adjustment period [when you get back home] can be anywhere from a few days, a few weeks, to even a few months. My first deployment, no adjustment. My second deployment was Africa. … That was the only time I had a crazy adjustment period because of what I was seeing there, what I was exposed to. When I got back, it’s weird to say, but I would go into a supermarket with a laundry list of things and I’d kind of get lost because of all the abundant choices. …
“For me, I try to make an effort to try to decompress. … Whether that upsets family and friends, it’s better for me and them if I have that period of time. But no one really knows that amount of time because it depends on what you’re around [during your deployment].”

- Matthew, Marines | Erbil, Iraq

Editor’s note: To help foster connection and understanding between civilians and service members, we created this series, “Front & Center,” and traveled to USO locations around the world to speak to troops about life in the military and the everyday things they love. Here’s what they had to say.