FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- In an effort to better understand Soldiers, behavioral health specialists from Aurora Behavioral Health Care, San Diego, traveled to the National Training Center to experience what Soldiers at Fort Irwin, Calif., go through during a training rotation, Feb. 13-14.

The behavioral health specialists spent their time at the NTC observing an attack on a combat observation post and an urban mounted patrol lane. Soldiers at Fort Irwin often face similar stresses of that of deployed Soldiers because of the nature of the training and the work schedule.

"I think that one of the things that we experienced over the past few days is a better understanding of what Soldiers go through when they are in the training area," said Dr. Susan Rindt, director of psychology and military programs at Aurora Behavioral Health Care, San Diego. "Many of them will talk to us about that and now instead of hearing what they say we can envision it having experienced some of it for ourselves. We can better understand where they are coming from and better connect with them to give us a better opportunity."

During a training rotation many Soldiers will have to disengage with their families and leave for two weeks to work in the training area. Although they are not thousands of miles away for months at a time, many Soldiers will not have contact with their families for those two weeks and have to switch from a family role to that of a combat one on a more frequent basis.

"One of the things that we noticed was that there is a definite problem with transitioning from a battlemind back to a family or more normal situation, and that is something that is unique to this base and also to this training area," said Rindt. "It is similar to the stresses that they would have coming back from deployment. So, we are going to use that information to help them cope with and handle those stresses so they can keep going back into the training area."

Due to their lack of military experience it is often difficult for the behavioral health specialists to fully understand what stressors Soldiers go through. Touring the training area provided the specialists with the experience needed not only to better understand Soldiers, but also better meet their needs.

"It was an invaluable experience for myself and my team," said Rindt. "To get firsthand experience of what they are going through, and I think every clinician should do it if they can make that happen, gives a deeper level of insight into what's going on in those realms."