Stewart-Hunter Recreation Activities Combat Post-Deployment Stress
April 15, 2009
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </B> --Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team recently returned from operations in Iraq and are the first group of Soldiers here to take part in a new Army-wide program designed to help troops funnel their combat stress through recreational activities.
Unique to the 24 garrisons across the Army participating in the new program, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield is the first installation to offer six separate outdoor activities to redeployed Soldiers through a program dubbed Warrior Adventure Quest at Holbrook Pond on Fort Stewart.
Warrior Adventure Quest, developed through a partnership between the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command and the Office of the Surgeon General, was created in conjunction with the Army's "battlemind" training to offer Soldiers high-adventure events in a safe, controlled environment, providing them an outlet to release stress but avoid high-risk activities.
Battlemind is an Army psychological resiliency-building program that helps Soldiers recognize and respond to fear during combat, then mitigate the cumulative effects of a sustained combat environment and become mentally prepared to reintegrate during the redeployment, post-deployment and reset portions of the deployment cycle.
"The Department of the Army saw a need to help Soldiers reintegrate back to normal after they've been in a high-tempo, high-adrenaline environment and look to outdoor recreational activities as a way to help transition them," said Stewart-Hunter Outdoor Recreation Director Susan Chipple. "When (Soldiers) get home, it's hard for them to adjust to a relaxed lifestyle. (Warrior Adventure Quest) gives Soldiers the opportunity to do so."
Set up in a round-robin atmosphere, Stewart-Hunter's Warrior Adventure Quest showcases six separate outdoor activities: kayaking, mountain biking, geocaching, skeet and trap shooting, paintball and rock climbing.
Chipple said the array of activities was meant to give Soldiers both sedentary and physically-active events to help illustrate the "up-and-down" effects Soldiers may experience when transitioning home from war.
"It gives Soldiers the opportunity to try something they've never tried before," he said, adding that six activities, as opposed to one, helps the installation's attempt to capture an individual's interest.
Chipple said another goal of the Warrior Adventure Quest is to allow units to participate in activities together, helping to foster unit camaraderie and emphasizing to Soldiers that units deploy and redeploy as a team.
Sergeant First Class Val Theirry, intelligence noncommissioned officer in charge for the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, participated in the Warrior Adventure Quest, April 8. His unit - the former 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment, which deactivated and reflagged as 3/15 Inf. as a part of the Vanguard Brigade's recent transition to a light infantry brigade combat team - redeployed from in Iraq in December 2008.
He said the Warrior Adventure Quest was a great way to help transition his team back to the "garrison" lifestyle.
"The motivation and morale here is high," Thierry said of the Warrior Adventure Quest. "This is a great way to come together as a team. (Additionally), it's a stress reliever, especially for an infantry Soldier. A Soldier could be dealing with a lot of stress at home, and this is great opportunity to help relieve that stress."
Not only have redeployed Vanguard Soldiers benefited from the Warrior Adventure Quest, but the new initiative has been an asset to the installation's Outdoor Recreation as well, said Chipple.
"We've had the opportunity to expose an entire (brigade combat team) to outdoor recreational programs here," Chipple said, adding the 4th IBCT Soldiers have provided a lot of positive feedback. "We've already seen an increase in participation at the skeet and trap range, and more Soldiers are calling to reserve a time to play paintball."
Though the Warrior Adventure Quest is slated to end April 30 for the 4th IBCT, the outdoor activities remain available to all Soldiers throughout the week. For skeet and trap or paintball reservations or for kayak and bike rentals, call Outdoor Recreation at 435-8205.
Indoor rock climbing is offered at Corkan Family Recreation Center, which can be reached at 767-9884. Any redeploying Stewart-Hunter units interested in participating in Warrior Adventure Quest can call Chris Dent, Recreation Delivery System coordinator, at 767-4316.