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Army tries to help returning soldiers adjust
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With the drawdown in Iraq and three 3rd Infantry Division brigades nearing the end of their 12-month deployments, thousands of soldiers are expected to be returning to Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield and surrounding communities over the next three months. This population will have to reintegrate into life back home.
To help soldiers and their families readapt to each other and cope with the stresses of daily living, the Army offers services and programs to make the reintegration process easier.
“Single or married, life will be different upon redeployment,” 3rd Infantry Division deputy commander general-rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips said. Phillips spoke candidly about the reintegration process in a column recently printed in the Frontline newspaper and posted on the 3rd ID’s Facebook page.
“If you’re married, maybe your spouse will have grown more independent and now be the main disciplinarian for your children,” Phillips said.  “That may leave you wondering where you fit in — after all, a year ago you were ‘head of the household.’  Your kids grew older and (so they think) wiser.  Maybe your relationship didn’t survive deployment.  Or maybe it got a lot stronger. 
“Maybe you have lost interest in things that captivated you before deployment,” the general continued.  “Or maybe loneliness has crept into the picture. Whatever the case, every soldier comes back a little — or a lot — different after a deployment, and often comes back to a home situation that’s changed.”
3rd Infantry Division Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews said deployments take a toll on a soldier’s family as well as on the soldier.
He said while the Army takes “an aggressive approach” to help soldiers successfully reintegrate when they redeploy, there are also programs for spouses and families to get reacquainted with their soldiers.
“They’re (families) going through stressors themselves,” Andrews said. The command sergeant major said these programs can also help soldiers’ family members understand the stress soldiers endured while deployed to a hostile environment.
“When you (the soldier) do get back, you have to recognize there are differences on both sides,” Andrews said. “The kids are older now. We try to get the soldiers ready for that particular reunion.”
Maj. Dionne Smith, Division Special Troops Battalion rear commander, said the Army’s reintegration program can help reduce “potential negative post-deployment effects.”   
“Some of the training during the 10-day reintegration process is provided in theater and is reemphasized once soldiers start training (on post),” Smith explained. “After soldiers return from a 48- to 96-hour pass, depending on when they arrive home from theater, they start the 10-day reintegration process.”
Smith said soldiers attend classes covering everything from finance, security assurance and legal services to alcohol and substance  abuse, sexual assault, suicide prevention, child abuse and domestic violence and sexually transmitted diseases. Soldiers also attend various safety classes, such as motorcycle, and hunting and outdoor safety, she added.
“In addition, all soldiers are required to conduct a medical screening to include dental and hearing,” the major said. 
Soldiers who require additional counseling are directed to the appropriate agency for assistance, such as behavioral health or Army Community Service, she said.
“There are classes directed toward married soldiers offered by ACS and the division chaplain conducts a marriage workshop where spouses are encouraged to attend,” Smith said.
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