Military personnel may experience pain and joy at the same time, struggling to understand that these feelings can coincide. They report despair and enrichment, hope in the midst of destruction, dejectedness over the situation and the satisfaction of a job well done. During deployment, personnel may experience this oscillation between stress and growth.

The best recognition the unit can get is that we, through precise and swift operations, are contributing to improve the security in Kabul and thus saving lives.

Petter Hellesen – Commander Captain, Norwegian Armed Forces

Coping with extreme and unpredictable challenges leads to increased self-confidence and a sense of achievement. This can foster a sense of “If I survived this, I can handle anything”. Self-esteem can be strengthened by seeing that your efforts in a war zone make a difference to the civilian population. Meaningful tasks, focused activity and getting recognition for your efforts protect against stress reactions post-deployment. People who are able to actively contribute generally cope better in the long run compared to inactive bystanders.

International deployment can create a unique sense of community and solidarity within the soldier group. The defeats, victories, observations and experiences of the team are difficult for those outside to understand.

New friendships can form based on common values and experiences. The soldiers may also value relationships higher than before and feel closer to family and friends.