SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - In the early morning hours before the sun had a chance to rise, spouses celebrated the return of Soldiers from the 728th Military Police Battalion, Tuesday, greeting them with lei and tears.

Preparation for the redeployment, however, began almost two weeks prior, Jan. 17, at the Spouse Battlemind training course. The course, part of Army Community Service's (ACS) mobilization and deployment series, armed spouses with an arsenal of information to ensure a healthy reunion.

"You are used to them being gone," said Sandi Crocker, mobilization and deployment specialist, ACS. "You have lived very different lives in the past fifteen months. How do we mesh those lives together'"

Crocker presented scenarios to spouses and talked candidly of her own experiences as a military spouse.

"Military life is hard," said Crocker. "But you are dedicated to your Soldier, and it's part of the package."

Spouses agreed and nodded their heads, also sharing deployment-related stories.

"We do this together," said family member Iris LaLonde. "I want to understand what my husband is going through."

The class covered the many benefits of military life, including financial stability, health care and overseas adventures.

Family members listened attentively and spoke openly, expressing their redeployment concerns with the group.

"We are going to cover tough subjects," said Crocker, as the class moved on to the subject of expectations and social support. "There is a dynamic between your husband and their battle buddy, but you also have a battle buddy. Your source of support will change when your Soldier returns."

Crocker recommended open communication and offered suggestions on approaching topics of conversation with honesty in a nonthreatening way.

"There are things Soldiers may not want to talk to you about," said Crocker. "And you can't push it."

Crocker explained deployment is difficult for every member of the family, and often Soldiers will present stories in due time and in their own words.

Crocker spoke of family roles, renegotiating priorities and emotional balance.

"There are more issues to face than you realize when (a Soldier) comes home," said family member Stephanie Register. "Good communication is the key, and education is the best prevention."

"We are aware of certain issues we will face, but every experience is different," added family member Olivia King. "With this course, we can share experiences and see the bigger picture.

"This class reflects our situations and prepares us for a positive reunion," King added.

For more information on the Spouse Battlemind training course and other redeployment classes Army Community Service offers, call 808-655-4227.