After a 10-month deployment to the Middle East, Capt. Jason Kidd, a clinical social work officer with William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, surprised his family during a local college football game, Sept. 22.
While deployed, Kidd provided behavioral health services for service members throughout the Area of Operations in Kuwait and Northern Iraq, initiating several programs to increase moral and minimize stress for hundreds.
"It feels good (to be home)," said Kidd, a Las Cruces, New Mexico native. "This is by far the longest deployment I've been on, you miss a lot (while deployed)."
The recent mission marks Kidd's fourth deployment, with two deployments to Africa, and one to Ukraine throughout his 11-year career in the Army.
Kidd's family, consisting of wife Marisa, a daughter and two boys, ages 14, 11 and two, respectively, had no idea of the surprise homecoming and believed they were attending the football game in his absence as part of a hometown hero salute.
"I had talked to (Kidd) like ten times that day, he made it sound like he was not here, and even made it sound like he was going to bed," said Marisa, an Army veteran herself with two combat deployments. "I was surprised and so were the kids."
While assigned to the 212th Medical Detachment (Combat Operational Stress Control) out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Kidd led a team of behavioral health technicians and augments to not only sustain morale in the theater of operations but also raise awareness and participation in various events, aimed at keeping service members active and engaged in social settings.
According to Kidd, his team introduced various activities such as 'Battle Buddies Against Suicide,' a high intensity training event, 'Hoops For Life,' a basketball tournament which included a life pledge and speeches on suicide, and a camp beautification project, to help keep Soldiers engaged while earning volunteer hours toward awards.
"You can work hard on the preventive side or work hard reacting (to suicide)," said Kidd. "We only had the USO out there and they were busting their butts, but I was trying to offer things in addition to it."
In a testament to the team's hard work, two of Kidd's soldiers were recognized various times by the unit and Canadian counterparts, with one even being selected for promotion. Kidd's efforts were also rewarded with the Meritorious Service Medal.
"We were running six morale events a week to help Soldiers," said Kidd. "I was always plugging in behavioral health in everything I could to keep people happy and keep moral up."
Now home, Kidd looks forward to spending more time with his family, specifically his two-year-old son.
"I've probably been gone more of his life than I've been around, so I owe him some time," said Kidd, who set off for his third deployment just three months after his son's birth. "It's good to be home."