FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (Army News Service, Dec. 11, 2006) - Family members and friends of the recently returned 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team spent a few weeks in a new type of reintegration training before their Soldiers returned home.

"Back in July and August we completed a round of reintegration classes prior to the brigade's extension. The feedback we received from those classes let us know that something more was needed," said Lt. Col. Greg Parrish, deputy commander, 172nd SBCT.

"We decided to try a whole new approach to this new round of classes. We worked out a way to make the sessions more interactive," he added.

With the help of Fort Wainwright mental health personnel and a Department of the Army Tiger Team, the SBCT decided to focus more on areas such as post traumatic stress disorder, communication, personal stories and how everyone has changed, Parrish said.

He began every session by talking about his own experience with redeployment. Following this, he separated everyone into smaller groups.

"The smaller groups allow for more one on one interaction," said Capt. Joseph Brady, clinical psychologist, Medical Department Activity-Alaska. "Included in the groups were counselors and Soldiers from the brigade who had previously returned from Iraq for various reasons."

Each group discussed the targeted topics as well as many other things, Brady said.

All group discussions included a time where the family members and friends could ask whatever was on their mind. In one class, for example, one wife asked for advice on helping her child get acquainted with his father.

"I came to just share my concerns with others, learn more about the signs of combat stress and how to help my husband if he ends up suffering from it," said Kari Pollack, wife of Staff Sgt. Eric Pollack, 562nd Engineer Company. "I want to help ease his transition home and this session gave me a road map of things that we might expect in the next few months."

Overall, communication was a big topic of discussion.

"Everybody is a different person from when the brigade deployed," Pollack said.

In addition to the many Fort Wainwright-based organizations present, several different groups from the Fairbanks community were there to reach out and offer help to Soldiers and their families.

"I feel these sessions have helped to build and reinforce realistic expectations for spouses," Brady said. "So far, we've had a lot of positive feedback, and I think this training will help make this reintegration a bit easier on everyone."

(Evans serves with the 20th PAD)

Page last updated Mon December 11th, 2006 at 15:15