Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Homecomings may take a little getting used to

Sgt. 1st Class Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
Multi-National Division – Center

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Returning home from a deployment can be a time full of excitement with hopes of getting back into normal life and reuniting with loved ones.
As Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., prepare to redeploy from their 15-month tour to Iraq, they are attending Battlefield Mind Training to help them reintegrate with their families.
“The concept behind the name of the training is that when Soldiers are deployed to combat environments they develop a battlefield mind – they are more hyper vigilant and aggressive,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Lonnie Locke, the 2nd BCT chaplain and native of Dothan, Ala. “The class is to help Soldiers make the switch from the battlefield mind to home – a battlefield mind will not work at home.”
Soldiers are taught they must take things slow and learn to adapt to their spouse and children again.
“The process of reintegration does not happen overnight,” Locke explained. “Spouses must be patient and willing to forgive one another for mistakes that may have been made during the deployment.”
The class teaches Soldiers that they should be aware that things have changed since they have been gone. Family members have had to take on additional responsibilities and may seem more independent than before.
Soldiers are encouraged to appreciate the sacrifices their spouses have made and not to automatically change how the household has been run.
Soldiers are also learning how their children may react upon redeployment.
“Children under six years of age may be a little hesitant at first,” Lock explained. “It is common for the children to migrate to the one who has been the caregiver – whether that is a parent or other family member – for the past 15 months.”
As for older children, they may express their feelings differently than younger ones.
“Older children may be angry at the parent who has been deployed,” Locke said.
Locke also explained that spending time with children is important to reintegration.
“It is important to spend one-on-one time with your children to let each of them know they are special,” Locke added.
Another aspect of reintegration deals with finances.
“Soldiers and family members are used to the extra money so they may have been accustomed to a different lifestyle for the past 15 months,” Locke said. “They must realize that they will not make as much money and adjust to the decrease in pay.”
Soldiers and family members are encouraged to resist spending a lot of money upon redeployment.
Like the Soldiers, family members of the 2nd BCT are being offered redeployment classes from the Fort Drum Army Community Service Center.
The classes are designed to teach family members some of the things Soldiers may experience upon redeployment.
“When Soldiers return home it is also a big adjustment for the families as well,” Locke said. “Families should be patient and understanding.”
Locke said that most families will experience issues – if there are any – within the first 90 days of return.
“If families are having trouble there are a number of places where they can get help – the chaplain, ACS and the Community Mental Health Center,” Locke said.
“But the most important thing to redeployment is to take things slow and enjoy the time you have together,” Locke said.

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