Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Re-deployment Training at Zeimer
Although it's still a ways off, our redeployment to the States requires a good deal of preparation. As others will soon be accounting for equipment, vehicles, etc., my role in this preparation includes conducting briefings for all of our Soldiers. Over the next three weeks, the topics I will cover range from the sober--suicide prevention and awareness--to the humorous--highlights and lowlights of Soldiers' combat experiences. Quality demands that these briefs and discussions take place in small group settings--ideally, one platoon at-a-time. As spread out as our Soldiers are, this will take a while. After these topics are covered, it will take another few weeks to address the even more delicate issues related to reunion with family and life back home.
There are several reasons why those who have experienced combat choose not to discuss it with their loved ones back home. Most often, Soldiers explain that others will not be able to relate. Some explain that they're uncertain how others would react, and don't want to be judged. Quite a few acknowledge that some of what they've experienced they wish they could forget--so why would they talk about it with spouses, parents, or friends? My approach is to explain that it is always going to be easiest to discuss these events amongst ourselves. A single name of a place or a person conjures countless mental images and emotional responses--much can be communicated, though little is said. However, this is a cop out. Bonding with others always requires effort. Everything of great value comes at great effort. Our family and friends are worth the effort it takes to share. It takes effort to give the back story; it takes patience--both to find the words and to listen.