FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 30, 2015) -- One of the most important aspects of training a Soldier can go through is the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE, training.
However, surviving through captivity is just half the battle, and Fort Rucker and U.S. Army South want to make sure that Soldiers are taken care of throughout the entire process.
Not all SERE students get the opportunity to experience the program's reintegration process, which includes family members, but for six Soldiers the training they experienced recently was invaluable.
"The process itself is a three-phase process that is used to take an individual who falls under the category of qualifying personnel from captivity and returns them to a normal healthy life," said Capt. Justin Moore, SERE school executive officer, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment.
"In the event they have a family situation, it facilitates that family, as well," Moore said.
The primary purpose of the training is to prepare the reintegration teams, said Moore, adding that often after the training, the teams are sent on real-world missions.
This training provides the reintegration team one of the best means of rehearsal in the real world because they are actually dealing with real family circumstances, and they are talking to real captives from a training environment perspective.
"The benefit to the Service member and the family is that they have a much better understanding of the process," Moore said. "The students go into the Army with a better understanding of the program and their family members have a better understanding of just how far the United States will go to ensure that anyone that we send into harm's way is taken care of from beginning to end."
Spouses and family members were apart from their Soldiers for 21 days, which allowed the reintegration teams a chance at real-world training through the process.
The intent of the program is to get students who have a standard family situation -- a wife and child -- to allow the family assistance teams from the reintegration process to practice working with those families, educating them on the process, working them through what would be the first phone call and meeting, so that they understand, Moore said.
Through this process, the family assistance teams actually get practice on working with how they would deconflict the situation, he added. The training also teaches students and family members how to deal with the effects of that long-term captivity, as well as how to deal with the media.
"It really focuses on both the person returning from captivity and the family, as well, and it's important to note that from the moment of captivity, qualifying members are given the opportunity to have their families begin the reintegration process," the executive officer said. "A family assistance team meets with them and starts to explain the protocols in place to support them until their family members come home, when they come home and after they return home."
From the family side, family members learn the aspects of how to cope with the fact that their Soldier has gone through this long captivity, but Moore said that the return to normalcy does not happen overnight, and that's where the reintegration team comes in.
"They teach them what to look for, what is normal, and if they need support that they can get it, as well as what type of support they can encounter," Moore said.
Although the training is a voluntary program, Warrant Officer Kerry Julian, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, said all Soldiers should go through the process.
"I just wanted the experience of it and I feel like if you volunteered for this you get a lot more in-depth knowledge of what happens after captivity, and you really realize how many people are out there to help someone," Julian said. "It really puts your mind at ease to know that if you're ever actually in that situation that you know that things are being taken care of at home, so it's one less stressor you have to worry about.
"I've deployed once to Afghanistan for a year and I wish I would have had all of this knowledge before I went because you never know what's going to happen," Julian said. "Knowing what I know now, if it ever happens to me, I just know that everything is being taken care of at home. It's the greatest training in the Army, but I hope I never have to use it."