Warriors prepare for transition back to the states
AL ASAD, Iraq - (Aug. 18, 2005) -- The Marines and Sailors of Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward), may find themselves on a plane to be reunited with their families after a seven-month deployment fighting the Global War on Terrorism.
Before they get on that plane, however, they must first receive a Warrior Transition Brief and Return and Reunion Brief which give them a description of what they might encounter when they return.
The briefs will be given by the CLB-2 chaplain to groups of 50, reaching 100 percent of the battalion’s nearly 1,000 Marines and Sailors in six days.
“These briefs are to get them to start thinking about going home,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Michael A. Wietecha, chaplain, CLB-2. “This is an attempt to get them geared up to getting back into their families.”
The Warrior Transition Brief covers the feelings they might experience when they get home after experiencing life in a combat-zone for the duration of the deployment.
“This is a pause in their daily grind for them to reflect on their past six months,” said Wietecha, a Sellersville, Pa., native. “During the brief I ask them to talk about some of the good and bad experiences they’ve had here. It’s an opportunity for them to open up if they want. I try to get them to talk about the tough issues, as well as the good ones.”
Death, family separation, stresses of working seven-days-a-week, the climate and for some, the ever-present threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and mine strikes are just some of the negative experiences encountered by the Marines and Sailors of CLB-2.
“The [military policemen, motor transportation, Mortuary Affairs] and the hospital are the ones with the most stories to tell because of their jobs,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Sonja L. Owens, a religious program specialist from Dallas. “They go outside the wire quite a bit and have seen a lot of things.”
“I try to keep a close eye on our Mortuary Affairs,” said Wietecha. “They’ve got a pretty hard job handling the “Angels” when they come in.”
Wietecha also explained to the Marines and Sailors that sometimes their families and friends who were are not military may have a hard time understanding everything they have experienced.
“Your friends who are not military did not have the training that you did,” said Wietecha. “If you have gory details or whatever, it may not be best to share those with them. Another thing that becomes easier to do here is use curse words. It is a way to help deal with the stresses.”
The Return and Reunion Brief covers the topic of being reunited with families and friends more in-depth than the Warrior Transition Brief, going over what to expect as a single or married service member and what to expect as a parent, as well as financial issues.
“You have to be ready for changes,” said Wietecha, who has been deployed to the Middle East seven times. “Things may not be exactly perfect when you return.”
According to the brief, it is not unusual for the service member to experience a homecoming let down. Reality is seldom equal to how service members fantasize life after the reunion would be.
“Take it slow and communicate,” said Wietecha. “Communication with your spouse and family is the most important thing. You have to be flexible and compromise.”
Not only do the briefs identify symptoms of a troubled service member, they also cover the available sources of help that a service member can seek if they are experiencing nightmares or having trouble dealing with their past experiences.
“There’s a lot of good info in the brief,” said Lance Cpl. Thomas H. Boisseau, Mortuary Affairs, CLB-2, and Conyers, Ga., native. “This helps you realize that the people who were out here with you are the ones who really know what you went through. But, at the same time, it makes you aware of places to go for help.”
Wietecha said this is only the first step for the Marines and Sailors as they return home.
“When they get home they will have 30, 60 and 90-day follow-ups,” he said. “This is just a pause for them to think about all they’ve been through and what is coming up.”