National Guard Conducts reintegration Event For Returning Soldiers, Families
About 70 members of the New York Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry which returned from Afghanistan in October. Brig. Gen. Patrick Murphy, Director of the Joint Staff for the New York Army National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters will also be present.
Members of the media are invited to meet with and observe Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry and their family members from Rochester and Central New York, participating in the New York Army National Guard Reintegration Program November 22 in Tarrytown. The program is designed to help Soldiers and their families understand and cope with some of the stresses of returning home after deployment to a combat zone.
1 p.m., Saturday, Nov 22
The Woodcliff Resort & Conference Center,199 Woodcliff Drive, Fairport, NYCoverage Opportunities: Opening remarks from Brig. Gen. Patrick Murphy, Dir. Joint Staff, Joint Forces Headquarters Interview opportunities with Brig. Gen. Murphy, program organizers, and Soldiers and families, Job Fair-type event featuring VA, veterans groups, legal assistance, etc. UNIT
The 2-108th Infantry (Security Force Company) comprised of five platoons, many who are Iraq war veterans, deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a member of Task Force Phoenix VI and VII. Upon arrival in Afghanistan, the 200 plus Soldiers were deployed out to over 60 separate operating or patrol bases to serve as mentors (typically 12 - 16 Soldiers) to the Afghanistan National Police or provide security for Task Force Phoenix personnel. Often the living conditions were quite primitive with very little modern amenities, sometimes being the only American Forces co-located with Coalition Forces. Collectively the Soldiers participated in ten's of thousands of combat missions throughout all of Afghanistan working with coalition forces and the Afghan National Security Forces to help improve the conditions in Afghanistan. To date, seven Bronze Star Medals, seven Purple Heart Medals, five Combat Action Badges, 84 Combat Infantry Badges, Combat Medics Badge, 17 Meritorious Service Medals, 181 Army Commendation Medals and 11 Army Achievement Medals have been awarded to unit personnel.
The New York Army National Guard Reintegration Program is an effort to help Soldiers and their families cope with the stress of returning to civilian life after deployment, while also helping Army National Guard units transition from their federal mobilization status back to state control.
For the previous five years the policy when Army National Guard units returned from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan was to give the Soldiers 90 days to themselves before they were required to begin coming to regular monthly National Guard weekend drills. While the goal-giving Soldiers time to decompress and spend time with their families after a year or 18 months away-was laudable, the system had flaws. During that 90 day period, Soldiers might begin experiencing problems and they had no one to talk to about it. Family members also might be put under strain as a long-gone spouse suddenly returned home.
The new program requires Soldiers to be present for paid assemblies at 30 and 60 days after their return from a combat zone, and invites families to attend as well. The sessions are held in a non-threatening, non-military environment, to provide Soldiers and families a chance to share experiences and talk frankly with each other and counselors about their experiences.
National Guard Soldiers are put back in touch with people who shared and understand their experience, at about the time the "honeymoon phase" of their homecoming starts fading. And with their spouses by their side, they hear about benefits and programs outlined (and potentially ignored) at briefings during demobilization.
At two months, there are briefings on anger management, substance abuse, gambling, financial management and other topics. Army studies have found that these issues occur at about those times. Again, spouses are invited along and the National Guard pays for the hotel for this session.
At the 90-day interval the Soldiers return to regular drilling status and report to their Armory for medical checks and additional briefings.
While many states are putting together reintegration programs, New York’s also focuses on the process of helping a unit get back into the rhythm of National Guard duty. The training schedule for the first year after return from a combat zone is provided to the unit, making it easier for the leadership to hit the ground running.
The goal of the New York effort, according to Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General, is to have Soldiers, families, and units reintegrated back into life here in New York following their service overseas.
Page Last Modified: Jul 01, 2013