By Andrea Stone
The training only lasts a day or two, but there’s a lot packed into those few hours for Soldiers redeploying to Fort Carson.
Reintegration training, designed for both Soldiers and spouses, is an opportunity to get information ranging from medical symptoms to be aware of, to communication with loved ones during the reintegration process.
“We’ve taken some of the worry from the units,” said Nate Nugin, Family Enrichment program manager, Army Community Service. “The unit doesn’t have to coordinate with all those different (agencies).”
The specifics of redeployment training are dictated by the Department of the Army, but ACS coordinates training from organizations such as Medical Department Activity, Army Substance Abuse Program and Office of the Fort Carson Staff Judge Advocate General.
“It makes it a little easier to come out with coordinated training if you have fewer people involved in the coordinating process,” he said.
In addition, ACS provides its own training, covering financial readiness, reintegration with children and classes geared toward married, single or divorcing Soldiers.
“The goal is to make sure that, whether Soldiers are married, whether they’re single or maybe dating … folks who are divorcing, all understand the importance of communication,” Nugin said.
Classes for married couples educate Soldiers on the phases they can expect to go through in a redeployment, such as honeymoon, struggles and adjustment and the new normal.
“There’s going to be a full array of emotion coming back,” said ACS instructor Flo Wyrich. “There’s going to be an adjustment time, and that’s not bad. What you’re going to find at the end of that is a new normal … and hopefully it’s going to be a better normal.”
Classes for single Soldiers cover topics such as things they should know about people they’re dating, knowing their own anger signals and communicating with others.
“Soldiers are not the same after deployment. Family may not understand what you are feeling,” said Mariana Graupmann, ACS instructor. “You want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, if that means reaching out to folks in your unit and talking to them because that’s who you feel most comfortable with right now, that’s totally OK.”
The class for those going through a divorce is unique to Fort Carson, Nugin said.
“We added it in 2006 because we found that there were a lot of folks who were experiencing those challenges and were in the process of divorcing or seeking divorce,” he said. “By and large, it’s about communication.”
Much of the focus for the training is centered on taking time to reintegrate and readjust to life, both with Family and in practical ways such as finances, major purchases and leisure activities.
“It really is about Soldiers and Families. It’s about the community. We talk about being safe when you go downtown. We talk about being safe when you go to the club,” Nugin said.
One of the classes the Sotos found most helpful at their reintegration training was the information on finances.
“The money piece was really good, a refresher or just to make you think. You don’t have to go out and buy all that crazy stuff,” said Staff Sgt. Evan Soto, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade. He and his wife, also a staff sergeant, deployed together.
“One of the other things that we look at … is the importance of not making really important decisions so close to coming back from a deployment, allowing themselves some time to kind of settle and get themselves reacclimated to being back here,” Nugin said.
One area Nugin said he’d like to see improvement in is spouse attendance and getting the word out that spouses are invited and encouraged to participate.
“We haven’t quite had the spouse turnout that we used to, and that we would like to have,” he said.
Whether or not spouses attend, getting the information to Soldiers is critical.
“Married, dating, single, divorcing, parent, non-parent — the goal really is the same, that is to take care of Soldiers and Families, to really enhance the transition home as much as we possibly can,” Nugin said. “We don’t ever want reintegration training to be a check-the-box thing. It’s too important.”