By Carolyn EricksonFebruary 13, 2009
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - A maintenance platoon from the recently returned 94th Engineer Battalion played paintball as a part of Warrior Adventure Quest, Friday.
"We planned high adventure activities that are somewhat tied to what they did downrange," said Capt. Wade Welsh, 94th Engr. Bn. operations officer.
Welsh explained how the Soldiers had been living on an adrenaline high for the last 12 months, and returned home to no adrenaline.
The leadership knew that the Soldiers would seek that adrenaline, and wanted them to find it in a safe way - not through high-risk behavior.
"Our rear detachment folks, while we were deployed, put this together and sent us the information," said 1st Sgt. Clayton Nagel, 94th Engineer Battalion Forward Support Company first sergeant. "The platoons voted on what they wanted to do."
Soldiers had the option to play paintball, ski or rock climb. While Soldiers wanted to try all the sports offered, paintball was especially popular.
"We fought over paintball," said Sgt. Trevor Hudson, Forward Support Co.
"Everyone wanted to play," said Pvt. Zach Mulligan, Forward Support Co.
"It's a good thing each platoon gets a chance to."
Playing paintball serves many functions.
"We are integrating our newer Soldiers who were here on rear detachment," Nagel said. "This is a team building and cohesion exercise."
The Soldiers involved agreed.
"It brings up cohesion for the platoon and squads," Mulligan said.
Hudson said that downrange the platoon was often going in different directions because of their maintenance function. He appreciated the chance to play paintball, as "it brings the team back together."
The 94th Engineer Battalion scheduled the WAQ days imbetween the 40 to 90 day window of redeployment, Walsh said.
"I think it's great the way our battalion scheduled it," Nagel said. "You have a few says of class, then take a break. It breaks up the reintegration process."
Welsh shared how the Army is using WAQ to take care of Soldiers. The unit leadership all received BATTLEMIND training to turn a day of fun into a reintegration and perhaps emotionally healing process.
"This is a training event designed to help reintegrate Soldiers," Welsh said. "The Soldiers see it as a day of fun. They may not even know it is helping them."
The platoon leader and platoon sergeant are trained with BATTLEMIND how to conduct an After Action Review at the end of each WAQ.
"They tie it back to events downrange," Welsh said. "You get them talking through it (downrange events), and perhaps can identify one Soldier who needs help. It helps if you can find then without it showing up in a bad way (later).
"This event (paintball) is the hook to get the Soldier interested in doing it," Welsh said. "It is another outlet for them."
The Soldiers shared how they thought paintball helped them coming back from Iraq.
"We want to do more paintball," Hudson said. "Especially coming back from deployment, it helps take care of the adrenaline and bring it down.
"You get hear the same noises, but you know that it's not lethal," Hudson continued. "It helps ease your senses."
Welsh shared how Fort Leonard Wood's chain of command and Morale, Welfare and Recreation had made the WAQ process easy.
"All we had to do is tell (MWR) what we wanted to do and when," he said, "and MWR handled the food, transportation and event. We sure appreciate it."
Welsh shared the details of preparing for each event, including taking trips to each venue. He emphasized how much work MWR put into making the events seamless and easy for the Soldiers. All the work was aimed at taking care of Soldiers.
"If this brings out one Soldier who came forward with an issue, then the process is a success," Welsh said.