Joint effort brings Soldiers home for the Holidays
December 3, 2013
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- Leaders with 177th Armored Brigade, First Army Division East, Camp Shelby Medical Task Force and Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center are making their lists and checking them twice as they prepare to demobilize a significant amount of Soldiers during the holiday season.
Many Soldiers were scheduled to return in November, before Thanksgiving, said Col. William Chlebowski, Commander, 177th AR Bde.
"It's assumed most Soldiers redeploying before and in November will be home by the week of Thanksgiving holiday," said Lt. Col. Kevin "Buzz" Ingram, commander , 1st Battalion, 346th Regiment, Air Defense Artillery, 177th AR Bde.
That doesn't always happen, he said.
"Our concern is during the Christmas and New Years break, the anticipated volume of personnel redeploying is about the size of three battalion formations. The number of Soldiers is approximately 1,000 on the ground at that time period."
Even with increasing numbers, the unit will not speed up the demobilization process, he said.
"We absolutely cannot rush them through the demobilization process," he said. "Rushing the process is a compromise of care."
The 177th AR Bde prepares incoming units for what requirements must be met for redeployment before the unit leaves their theater of operation. The process starts many months before a unit's return date is even confirmed. This method allows every Soldier to be evaluated individually, said Ingram.
"The demobilization process, which is a template set for 14 days, seems to give Soldiers enough time to complete all processes and all requirements," he said. "Some Soldiers achieve all requirements in less time."
By starting the process and knowing the demobilizing unit requirements early, the 177th can better prepare, especially during the holidays.
"During the holidays, we understand we are working in a constrained environment with available resources," he said. "Christmas being the most constrained when we are looking at available medical providers and support personnel."
The 177th AR Bde partners with Camp Shelby Medical Task Force and Camp Shelby Garrison for every demobilization mission, Ingram said. In making this cohesive partnership, there is an ability to run demobilization operations every day, in some capacity, with the exception of Christmas Day and New Years Day.
"There are some units that are aware that schedule of redeployment will fall over the Christmas holiday," said Ingram. "With that being said, command teams with the support of 177th AR Bde have planned Christmas celebration and dinner for their Soldiers."
"The vast majority of Soldiers belonging to the 177th AR Bde know what it feels like to be deployed during the holidays," said Chlebowski. "Our Soldiers and the entire community of Hattiesburg are preparing to make the holiday season the best as possible for our returning heroes."
The Soldier Readiness Program Team, Medical Task Force Shelby is a busy entity and are always equipped for constant care of deploying and redeploying Soldiers.
"At this time I am confident our team is prepared for the volume around the holidays," Staff Sgt. Kimberly R. Henderson, Soldier Readiness Program, Camp Shelby Medical Task Force. "We try not to send Soldiers out for assistance from satellite SRP sites,"
Henderson contacts incoming units to get them the necessary paperwork and advise them on what needs to be already done before redeployment.
"Our mission is to collect information on the Soldier ahead of time to get them to the providers efficiently," said Henderson. "When the unit is wheels-ground here we are prepared."
Henderson explained that this forward-thinking preparation and partnership helps facilitate the demobilization process as well as leave no stone unturned in the care of each Soldier.