By Spc. Noelle WieheAugust 30, 2018
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team will be the pilot brigade for the 3rd Infantry Division's most involved reintegration initiative as they welcome more than 4,000 Soldiers in the coming months from their deployment to Korea.
The Families of deployed Soldiers will be the first to take part in Ready, Set, Home - an initiative aimed at ensuing excitement for their Soldier's return.
"After having just gone through this with my own Soldier returning home a few weeks ago, I hope I can contribute to making it a smooth transition for others Families," said Anna Hagerty, military spouse volunteer. "I encourage others to always continue learning, seek the help you need and be patient during the process."
The returning Soldiers will be the first within 3rd ID to experience reintegration as far out as 60 days after being back home, said Carly Michael, chief of nonapprorpriated funds support division, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
"We are doing a deep-dive on reintegration to see how we're training the Soldiers, what we're offering to Family Members and to see where we could make some changes that might improve the process," said Marji Freeze, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield ready and resilient integrator.
The Ready and Resilient Council, along with such organizations as the United Services Organization; DFMWR; and dozens of community organizations combined to best address the hope for a smoother transition of Soldiers back into their home lives.
"We're looking at the reintegration process and trying to improve it, so I think that 1st ABCT will benefit a lot from the process improvements we've made," Freeze said.
Ready, Set, Home is a redeployment party scheduled for spouses and Families of returning Soldiers, Sept. 23 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Michael said. The party will include music, food, prizes, children's crafts, demonstrations, recreation information and more.
"It is geared toward the spouses in a way that it is going to drum up that excitement for getting their Soldiers back home," said Capt. Stephen Schutte, 1st ABCT reintegration officer-in-charge.
Schutte said these events are expected to help get the Soldiers to think about stressors that may come along with redeployment and reintegration and to help come up with secondary plans in the event; they come up short. In those cases, the team from Army Community Services and the Military Family Life Counselors are on standby the minute that these Soldiers get home.
"This is the time to not only capture that excitement through an event like Ready, Set, Home, but at the same time, present information that they can have access to," Schutte said.
Tickets for Ready, Set, Home are free, Michael said.
Michael, who is also a military spouse, said her and her husband's first deployment was 18 months long.
"It was like meeting my husband again for the first time; I remember how bumpy that was," Michael said. "It helps me understand what (these Families) might go through."
Reintegration is being brought to the forefront as an integral piece to readiness among redeploying troops, but what the Army is putting effort toward now is the days beyond the initial culture shock of coming home to combat those trends which ultimately hinder Soldier readiness.
"When you think about reintegration - that is when the Soldiers get back - you need to look at before they get back, like the Family Member prep, and that initial reintegration," Freeze said. "But, the thing we hadn't really focused on before is that after they finish the initial redeployment reintegration, all the way out to at least 120 days, probably further, we start to see that Soldiers and Family Members are stressed."
The stress includes or ultimately leads to high-risk situations like domestic violence, child abuse, suicidal behaviors and driving under the influence offenses, Freeze said.
"Before you got home, you did the ceremony, you met with your Families, and then you had the next week to a week and a half of just administrative tasks, and they considered you integrated," Schutte said, referring to his redeployment from Afghanistan in 2013. "We are all really starting to learn that there is a whole emotional and relationship aspect to all of this that is still in play, that you're still making adjustments to when you come home."
With this in mind, the Ready and Resilient Council asked: "What are we providing to help the Soldiers and the Family Members and the commanders with all that stress?"
From that question, the Ready and Resilience Council developed commander products aimed at making integration for Soldiers and Families more seamless.
One product is the risk-reduction analysis, sent to the commander 120 days from their redeployment that shows trends of challenges faced based on similar units who've redeployed in the past.
Another product, which came about as a result of the working group's findings, was the Commander's Reintegration Training Catalogue.
"It gives the commander a snapshot of what the training is; it gives hyperlinks to videos about the training so he or she can really get an understanding of what it can do, and it talks about the end state of what the training can do for their unit," Freeze said.
The catalog includes a reintegration training timeline and events such as Warrior Adventure Quest, budgeting, buying a car, buying a house, RECON Challenge, Strong Bonds for Couples, a trip to Get Air, a Coming Home Tailgate, and an Amazing Race.
"You're never going to educate everybody on everything that could happen, but I think if you provide them with where the information and resources are, they know where to go when they come home," Michael said.