JOINT BASE MCGUIRE DIX LAKEHURST, N.J. - News outlets frequently show stories of service members returning home and surprising their family and friends. These heartwarming stories do not happen, however, until the service member completes the last step of the deployment: demobilization.
The 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division East, located at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, N.J., oversees the demobilization of Reserve Component service members on a daily basis. Demobilization at JBMDL allows redeploying military personnel to address and resolve medical, dental, behavioral health, financial, and administrative issues occurring as a result of being mobilized.
"First Army has a requirements-based demobilization process," explained Col. John Lange, 72nd FA Bde commander. "Along with the Soldier and enterprise partners, we identify and resolve any potential hurdles that the service member may face as a result of being mobilized."
During this last step of a deployment, understanding the process will assist the military personnel and their families effectively navigate the return home.
"Overall, this has been as good of an experience as demobilization can be," said Staff Sgt. Robert Bradley, a South Carolina Guardsman. "Here, we hit the ground running. What made it work is that we got the information we needed and everything was explained to us. It's time to get home."
Because many returning Soldiers have spent the past twelve months either preparing for deployment or deployed, the demobilization process may seem time-consuming, as they want to return to their families. Members of the 3-314th Field Artillery Battalion understand the anxiety this may cause and worked to make sure demobilizing Soldiers received thorough yet prompt assistance.
"Upon arrival at JBMDL, the demobilizing unit's leadership is given a demobilization flowchart to provide a snapshot of the demobilization process, its' requirements and the unit's current standing," explained Lt. Col. Samuel Rodriguez, 3-314th battalion commander. "It is a detailed explanation of what the unit can expect during the demobilization process, barring unforeseen developments."
Other factors must also be assessed during demobilization.
"The Soldiers' status as active duty, National Guard or Reserve can also affect the process," Rodriguez continued. "Add to this the congressionally-mandated workshops and classes, as well as other demobilization-based process requirements, and it becomes evident that individual transition time may be different based on a Soldier's readiness."
"The demobilization process can seem overwhelming," said Sgt. 1st Class, Joseph Thomas, 3-314th Demobilization Branch. "We want to simplify it as much as possible, while also making a seamless transition back to civilian life."
"One Soldier may need to go through the standard procedures; while another may need to have a line-of-duty (medical evaluations) completed or visit the dental clinic. The specifics vary for each individual," explained Sgt. 1st Class Keith Payne, 3-314th Demobilization Operations senior enlisted advisor. "Although members of a unit may arrive together, it is possible that they will not complete the demobilization process and be released at the same time."
The priority for the 72nd is to provide a positive encounter for those that have deployed, as well as set conditions for each returning Soldier to return home to their family and home station units.
"We are committed to ensuring that every individual is returned back to his or her family and community knowing that we have been as thorough as possible," said Lange. "It's all about the individual that's returning."
First Army Division East advises, assists and trains reserve component forces prior to deployments, as well as during monthly and annual training events to maintain Army-directed readiness standards. The 72nd FA Bde supports the First Army Division East mission of overseeing the demobilization process for all Reserve Component Soldiers at JBMDL.