“Wagonmasters” prepare to go home
By Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING Base Q-WEST, Iraq — Capt. Brent Crosswhite, chaplain with 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), briefed Soldiers May 7 at Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq to inform them of the challenges they may face when they reunite with their Families.
The briefing is one of several the Soldiers receive to prepare them for a safe and successful redeployment.
Crosswhite said it is normal for Soldiers and Family members to have questions, concerns and fears about redeployment. The Soldiers may wonder if their Family still needs them, if anything has changed or if their children will recognize them. Spouses may wonder how their Soldiers have changed and what will be different when they get home. Children may wonder if rules will change and how long the parent will stay home.
Things will likely be different than what the Soldier remembers, he said.
“A year has done some things to you. A year has probably done some things to your spouse too,” Crosswhite said.
A spouse may be angry about things they could not do while the Soldier was deployed. Children have changed too. They have grown older. They may have had different rules and they may be more independent now, he said.
Crosswhite said the physical environment may also be different than what Soldiers remember. For example, a spouse may have sold the Soldier’s favorite chair. Soldiers need to prepare for such changes.
Deployments do not create problems — people do. A healthy Family will not be hurt by a deployment, but a deployment will not help a troubled one, he said.
“If you had issues when you left, they’re probably still there,” Crosswhite said. “Successful reintegration and reunion means negotiating these changes.”
The Soldier should not, and likely cannot, make things as they were before the deployment. Talking and negotiating, without criticizing, is the best way to reintegrate. Soldiers should start talking to their loved ones before redeploying to work through issues and come up with a reunion plan, he said.
“We need to have realistic expectations,” Crosswhite said. “Have a plan for coming home but realize that the plan might change.”
Soldiers should make the first days upon redeployment special for themselves and their Families by spending time with their spouse, kids and relatives, he said.
Soldiers should be cautioned against drinking alcohol irresponsibly upon redeployment, Crosswhite said.
“You’re not going to out-drink the people who are selling it and making it,” he said. “They’re not going to run out.”
It is also unwise for Soldiers to go on a spending binge when they return. They will no longer receive the extra pay associated with being deployed and need to budget accordingly, he said.
Crosswhite said those with problems should seek help and stay connected with each other.
“If you have an upcoming divorce, come talk to somebody,” he said. “If you’re going home to a rough situation take time to talk about it now.”
Capt. Brent Crosswhite, chaplain with 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), briefed Soldiers May 7 at Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq to inform them of the challenges they may face when they reunite with their Families. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade public affairs)