FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers who visited the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center June 21, 2022, picked up a heavy dose of information.
Hosted in partnership by Army Community Service (ACS) and the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, the Reintegration Expo featured more than 30 assisting resource agencies, organizations and programs, all of whom provided Soldiers and Family members with useful knowledge.
The brigade’s Soldiers have recently returned from a deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of operations over the past few months.
“This was the first ever reintegration event that we’ve put on,” said Melissa Favero, ACS deployment specialist. “The idea was to create a sort of clinching loop for the brigade’s Soldiers. We hosted a pre-deployment fair prior to their departure and now have presented them with this post-deployment expo as a means of refreshing their minds about the types of services available on post and in the community.”
Representatives from most ACS programs joined officials from many on-post organizations to enlighten attendees about their programs and the services they provide. For Soldiers and Family members, the information experience ran the gamut and included health care, transition assistance, financial planning and counseling, alcohol and substance abuse, housing office, chaplain, commissary, ID cards, education, outdoor recreation activities and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers.
“The reintegration event was designed to help Soldiers and Families prepare for what’s next, after their deployment,” said Connie Roy, Family Enrichment Program manager, ACS. “We want to help Soldiers determine what resources they need. If they are separating from the Army, they’ll want different resources than if they are PCSing or staying at Fort Carson. So, it’s about that transition or stability piece.”
Resource and educational agencies from off post also joined the event as organizers sought to include a diverse set of helpful entities, such as local universities and veterans service centers.
The event also represented a return to traditional events for the Mountain Post, which simply couldn’t occur over much of the past year due to pandemic and gathering restrictions. ACS specialists explained that 1st SBCT’s pre-deployment fair occurred just prior to pandemic restrictions.
“This big event was great for us and the Soldiers,” said Dallas Schrawder, financial readiness specialist, ACS. “We had to limit group sizes and that kind of forced us to send representatives down to the individual units and deliver information on a much smaller scale. We had to do a lot more work to get information out to the same amount of people.”
Even with the larger venue, event leaders organized Soldier visits by unit — with individual units visiting the special events center at hourlong intervals. As one unit wrapped up its expo experience, another was ready to begin.
Some spouses attended along with their Soldiers, while others decided to visit in the later hours of the expo, which started at 9 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
“Not only do spouses often have different informational needs than their Soldier, they often want to hear information firsthand,” Roy said. “So, with this format we were able to accommodate them better and allow them to spend time with the agencies and representatives that can help them most.”