By Randy Murray, Fort Stewart Public AffairsSeptember 24, 2010
FORT STEWART "It's almost like you've been divorced for a while, and you're having to learn how to live together all over again," explained Linda Moseley, mobilization/deployment manager with Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield's Army Community Service. "It takes time to re-connect with that intimacy you had before you or your spouse was deployed. You've both changed over the last 12 months."
"Change" is a word used often by ACS personnel during an extensive reintegration class called "Preparing to be together," which helps prepare Soldiers and spouses for post-deployment. Stewart-Hunter Soldiers and their spouses can't just say, "My spouse is back; now we can be a Family again," said Moseley, who grew up as an "Army brat," served as an Army intelligence officer and is now as an Army spouse. She said it takes time to feel "normal" again after re-deployment. It also takes communication, courage and commitment to adjust to the changes.
Moseley said some of the changes are in everyday life as well as personal changes, financial changes and sometimes physical changes. She noted that some Soldiers return with physical or mental disabilities, including Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, serious changes that require serious adjustment, both for the Soldier and spouse.
Major General Tony Cucolo, 3rd Infantry Division commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, 3rd ID command sergeant major, reflect on the importance of understanding these changes at the beginning of the DVD and the online link "Preparing to be together" on the Team Stewart Web site. The Marne leaders emphasize that while down range, Soldiers only have to stay focused on one thing - the mission. On the homefront, however, spouses have to deal with a multitude of things - usually alone or as a single parent.
Moseley said that even though Soldiers and spouses anticipate re-uniting as couples and as Families, they need to prepare for being together. Both Soldier and spouse need to have realistic expectations, she said, noting that if you had marital problems before your spouse deployed, you'll probably marital problems when he or she returns. Moseley said communication is vital to re-starting your relationship, along with a commitment to each other and a willingness to adjust to changes, to include restoring co-parenting.
She said the most common problems Stewart-Hunter couples have following re-deployment are financial issues. While the spouse was deployed, that additional tax-free combat pay was helpful, but quite often, this additional pay is taken for granted as being part of the Soldier's regular monthly pay. Following re-deployment and the end of that special pay, many Families find themselves in a financial bind, and these financial problems can lend themselves to marital problems, Moseley said. For this reason, dealing with financial issues is a big part of ACS' reintegration training, she added.
Beth Curran, ACS financial readiness program manager, joined Evie Rodriguez and Rich Johnson, both ACS mobilization/deployment specialists during their presentation of "Preparing to be together" at a Family Readiness Group meeting for 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry spouses, conducted at Club Stewart's Patriot Room, Sept. 14.
"It shouldn't be much more than 30 days," said Christina Lindner, FRG advisor for 3/7th Cav. as she opened the group's last meeting prior to their Soldiers' return.
A room filled with spouses and small children cheered and applauded as Lindner discussed plans for putting together "goodie" bags for single Soldiers. Following additional information about return flights given by the rear detachment commander, Rodriguez began her program, occasionally pausing to answer questions or in some other way try to involve her audience. About half way through the 29 slides used during Rodriguez' presentation, Curran talked about financial issues and ACS resources available to help Stewart-Hunter Families resolve financial problems.
Rodriguez, who is also an Army spouse of a deployed husband, said information from two books, "Souls Under Siege," by Bridget C. Cantrell, and "Down Range to Iraq and Back," by Bridget C. Cantrell and Chuck Dean, is incorporated into the ACS program for reintegration.
"'Souls Under Siege'" talks about multiple deployments and how Soldiers are stretched thin," Rodriguez explained. "It stresses that warriors on their third and fourth deployment have greater rates of mental health problems than those that do only one or two deployments. 'Down Range to Iraq and Back' talks about the troops coming home and the experiences and challenges they face with reintegration."
Soldiers or Family Members with question about post-deployment issues should call Moseley at 912-767-4047. To watch "Preparing to be together" online, go to www.stewart.army.mil/DMWR/acs/default.asp.