2013-09-27 / Community Events

Redeploying Soldiers offered support during reintegration

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs


Helen Putnam, a physician assistant with the Traumatic Brain Injury clinic at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, provides medical counsel to Staff Sgt. Frederick Jennings of the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, during the last day of reintegration held Sept. 18 at Gym 3. 
Photo credit: Bonnie Heater / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Helen Putnam, a physician assistant with the Traumatic Brain Injury clinic at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, provides medical counsel to Staff Sgt. Frederick Jennings of the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, during the last day of reintegration held Sept. 18 at Gym 3. Photo credit: Bonnie Heater / Fort Gordon Public Affairs A lot of planning and preparation takes place prior to deployment and months of preparation takes place before Soldiers redeploy back to their stateside units. Once they redeploy they begin a process to reintegrate them back into their family routines and a noncombat military environment, but first they are welcomed as heroes.

When the Soldiers of the advance party of the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion and C Company, 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, returned to Fort Gordon Sept. 11, they received a hearty welcome home at Gym 3, after a nine-month overseas deployment.

“We supported theater operations in Southwest Asia while deployed,” said Capt. Tom Cayia, officer in charge of the advance party and B Co., 67th ESB commander. “This deployment was a very positive experience for our unit.”

Although the deployment went well and everyone returned safely, most were looking forwarding to getting home to spend some time with their families and friends. “When we first arrived at Fort Gordon, we turned in our weapons; the single Soldiers planning to live in the barracks again, receive their room key and meal card and all our Soldiers, including those with families, were given 24 hours off as part of the first day of reintegration,” Cayia explained.

Normally reintegration can last from 7 to 10 days depending on the number of Soldiers redeploying, Cayia said. “Since our group was small, about 99 Soldiers, the process took seven days.”

From the moment the Soldiers stepped off the plane, seven days were blocked off for the transition back to into life outside a combat zone.

During those seven days, Soldiers took part in briefings, underwent post-deployment medical, dental and visual screenings, administrative and financial processing that helps them assimilate back into their families and the communities they left nine months ago.

“The Army’s redeployment reintegration program underpins what it means to be Army Strong,” said Col. Robert L. Edmonson, the 35th Signal Brigade commander. “Along with medical screenings, safety classes and other administrative sessions, the reintegration program offers the Soldiers and their families with opportunities to happily reunite after spending months apart. The welfare of our Soldiers and families is always a top priority. Without question, the reintegration program helps to build resilient units, troopers and families who will continue to help preserve our nation’s freedoms and customary way of life.”

“If the Soldiers have some concerns, we talk about them during the medical screening,” said Sgt. Richard Spearman, a behavior health specialist at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center. “We are able to set up a follow up appointment at Behavioral Health for them to be seen.”

Some of the briefings they received included: Army Career and Alumni program; Army benefits, resiliency training for warriors and spouses, finances, sexual harassment assault response and prevention program, substance abuse prevention, domestic abuse prevention, equal opportunity, and comprehensive soldiers and family fitness, and marital assessment.

“Our families received the family resilience briefing before we redeployed back to Fort Gordon,” said Sgt. Maj. Adam Tweedell, the 67th ESB operations sergeant major. “They were also invited to attend one session with their returning military spouse during reintegration.”

Capt. Joseph Lee, the 63rd ESB chaplain, talked to the returning Soldiers about suicide prevention awareness as part of the reintegration process. He encouraged the Soldiers to look out for one another and he pointed out symptoms of post-deployment stress. Soldiers were encouraged to communicate about their experiences while deployed, and the chaplain provided them with local and online resources to help them transition back to life after redeployment.

Army safety was also discussed. “Our Army leadership made sure all privately owned vehicles received a safety inspection,” Cayia said. “For most us, it’s been nine months since our vehicles have been driven.”

“As for the motorcycle riders in the units, they were required to attend a mandatory motorcycle riding refresher course taught at Fort Gordon before riding again,” Tweedell said.

After the Soldiers complete the reintegration process they will take leave. This will be followed up with collective training within teams, squads and platoons.

“As part of the reintegration process the Soldiers will be reevaluated medically and by behavioral health specialists 60 days later, then 120 days later, to make sure they are continuing to do well,” Cayia said.

“We will also have the Signal Soldiers working on industry certificates and individual training that affects the overall team,” Cayia explained. “Maintenance on all our vehicles will be completed and our Soldiers will be expected to attend [leadership development courses] when they are eligible to take them.”

“It is part of a cycle,” he added. “The reset stage is reintegration during the redeployment, followed by the training stage, and finally, the “Ready” stage, where we can possibly receive orders to deploy again.”

Resources

• Military deployment health information: ww.pdhealth.mil

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gobv

• Tricare national and regional toll-free contact numbers: www.tricare.osd.mil

• U.S. Army Public Health Command: http://phc.amedd.army.mil

• Hooah 4 Health: http://Hooah4Health.com

• Military One Source: 24/7 toll-free numbers to assist with counseling, familyrelated issues, and other concerns. Twelve free counseling sessions for Soldiers and family members. In the United States, (800) 342-9647; www.militaryonesource.com.

• American Red Cross Reuniting, Reconnecting and Rebuilding for Military Families, free and confidential program, go to redcross.org/reconnectionworkshops.

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