November 12, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - During the past several months, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr has welcomed home Soldiers from 18th Combat Sustainment Support Brigade and 172nd Infantry Brigade.
Garrison leadership and agencies, as well as both brigades, have worked hard to ensure that nearly 1,000 returning Soldiers are being taken care of.
Redeploying Soldiers are required to complete reintegration training when they return to their home station. The purpose of the Initial Reintegration Training is to connect service members with service providers who can assist them in overcoming the challenges of reintegration.
Task Force Shield's Brigade Rear Detachment Commander Lt. Col. Eric Stetson was responsible for coordinating with USAG Grafenwoehr to provide command and control during the reintegration process for 172nd's returning Soldiers.
"I think it is important for Soldiers to spend some time focusing on their personal and professional matters immediately after a deployment to make sure they are ready and prepared for block leave and future training," Stetson said.
U.S. Army Europe policy states reintegration training will begin between one to two days after the Soldier has returned from deployment and will last seven consecutive days with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To ensure the reintegration timeline is met, returning Soldiers are on a tight schedule, but one that will only take approximately four to five hours daily, allowing for family or personal time during the rest of their day.
Sgt. Maj. Steve Spillman, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment's Operations, returned from his sixth deployment, Oct. 12. Spillman returned with 172nd's advanced party to augment the rear detachment in receiving and reintegrating 172nd Infantry Brigade on its return from Iraq.
"Reintegration provides a one-stop shop for Soldiers with useful information, assistance and links to the community for assistance with any issues they may have," Spillman said.
Reintegration also gives Soldiers a chance to get back into the pace of family and community life after being deployed, where daily operations are stressfully and situationally different. On the first day of reintegration Soldiers begin processing back into the community.
Transportation is available for single Soldiers who had personal property stored during deployment and also for Soldiers who had their vehicles stored. Representatives also ensure Soldiers' ID cards haven't expired and will allow them base access.
A host of personnel from agencies such as the Education Center, Community Bank and Service Credit Union assist Soldiers with information and answer Soldiers' specific questions.
Also, Community Mail Room Representatives are available if Soldiers forgot their mail box numbers or combination.
According to Postal Specialist Michelle Jackson, it is easier on personnel and Soldiers to come to one building to process back into the community instead of Soldiers having to bounce back and forth between agencies on post.
"This keeps the line down at the CMR ... let alone having to stand in a line with 20 people to just get their combination," Jackson said.
During medical processing on the second day of reintegration, Soldiers receive a mental health brief as well as flu shots, tuberculosis tests and a visit with a health care provider for a postdeployment health assessment.
Any medical issues discovered on day 2 of reintegration are referred to the appropriate health care provider by appointment.
"It is important for Soldiers to get the health care they need as soon as possible after coming home so they are ready and healthy for life back in garrison," Stetson said.
Day 3, or what is known as family day for married Soldiers, consists largely of briefings. For married Soldiers, their spouses are encouraged to attend with their Soldier to undergo interactive training. This training helps couples deal with marital issues that could arise during a deployment.
For couples who identify marital problems, additional training is offered through the USAG Grafenwoehr's Army Substance Abuse Program, Army Community Service, Family Advocacy and Chaplain's Office.
"I feel that the combined reintegration sessions with the spouse are the most important for married Soldiers ... This training provides an open forum for discussing expectations, anxiety and where to go for assistance," Spillman said.
For single Soldiers, day 3 also consists of briefings and training dealing with issues that can develop after a deployment. The same agencies offered to married Soldiers are also offered to single Soldiers with the addition of Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program.
For the last three days of reintegration, Soldiers meet with representatives at finance, legal, dental and personal property to update records and make additional appointments.