By Ron Toland, USAG Ansbach Public AffairsJuly 11, 2008
ANSBACH, Germany - With the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade approaching the end of a 15-month deployment to Iraq, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach is increasing efforts to prepare families and Soldiers for a smooth reunion.
Part of the reintegration process is Battlemind Training, which is held separately for each party.
The spousal end of the program is overseen here by Pamela Thomas, Army Community Service program support assistant and interim mobilization and deployment program manager.
"The purpose of Battlemind Training is to help spouses to be aware and to educate them that change has occurred in themselves as well as in their redeploying servicemember," Thomas said. "The training is a means of education for some; reemphasizing already known information for others."
What Spousal Battlemind does, Thomas explained, is give husbands and wives a heads up or a guideline on what they should look for - abnormal types of behaviors that were not present before the deployment.
Furthermore, Thomas said the Army does not want returning Soldiers to put off seeking counseling if needed. A problem - which is a garrison and service-wide concern - that Spousal Battlemind aims to avoid. Overall, the program shows behaviors or warning signs that family members need to be aware of during reintegration.
Thomas said spouses will need to give returning Soldiers an adjustment period to home life and "to re-acclimatize to being a spouse, to being with the children and life in general."
According to a program training module for troops, Battlemind is the Soldier's inner strength to face fear and adversity in combat with courage. However, the program warns: "If you respond at home the same way you respond in combat, you're going to have problems. You must take your Battlemind skills and adapt them so that they are just as effective at home as they were in combat."
It is getting their attention by saying, "less than 72 or 96 hours ago you were in a combat environment, but now you are not," explained USAG Ansbach Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mike Yarman, who conducts Battlemind Training sessions.
Plus, said Yarman, it is conveying: "I'm home and life here is much different than on the battlefield."
That change is a crucial turning point, Yarman added, as "We are tying to bring all these issues to the surface for Soldiers to identify with. We want to enable them to identify what issues they may be dealing with and to attack a very real problem - we do not want them to hurt themselves or anyone else during the transition phase."
It is taking lessons learned, the chaplain observed, and applying intervention.