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Ministering to Returning Soldiers

Ministering to Returning Soldiers


Arlington, VA — As our soldiers begin to return from operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Army Chaplains are at the forefront in helping Active and Army Reserve soldiers transition back into their everyday lives. The Army recently launched the Deployment Cycle Support (DCS) program to help soldiers meet the challenges of returning home from a mission. The program is designed to assist soldiers as they reunite with their families, return to their communities, assist on financial matters and re-establish their job role at home base or in the civilian sector. "Chaplains are a key component to the re-integration of our soldiers to their lives at home," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Glen Bloomstrom, director, Ministry Initiatives, United States Army, Arlington, Va. "Chaplains and chaplain assistants live and work right along side with the soldiers, from the front lines to ministering to them and their families at home base. We relate and understand the challenges of deployment that soldiers face." The DCS program establishes an Army-wide standard that all deployed soldiers must participate in. Beginning while soldiers are still in-theatre of operations, the program continues once the solider has returned home to address anticipated deployment cycle issues and challenges. The Army's goal is to ease the transition for our soldiers by providing standardize procedures including psychological screening, debriefing, and identifying those at risk soldiers that may require immediate attention. "The purpose is to learn the lessons from previous operations," said Bloomstrom. "It allows commanders to catch issues before they become fixed over time and focus resources where needed." During the three phases of redeployment: in-theatre actions, post deployment and demobilization, and reconstitution, Chaplains and chaplain assistants will provide opportunities for soldiers and their families to get the valuable information they need. Based on individual assessments, soldiers will participate in additional follow up assistance as needed. The five key focus areas are reunion training, suicide awareness and prevention training, marital assessments, training on changes in relationships and communication with spouse and children, and a voluntary one-day marriage education workshop. The U.S. Army Chaplain corps has posted up-to-date information about the Deployment Cycle Support program on for Army Chaplains and civilian clergy to use when ministering to soldiers in their parishes. "Clergy in local communities are key leaders in bringing soldiers back home," said Bloomstrom. "For Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers returning to families, communities and jobs, local ministers, priests and rabbis are pivotal in their transition." Chaplains, who are among the first to meet returning soldiers will help coordinate the redeployment process. In addition to these DCS initiatives, an Army One Source toll free number will soon be implemented for soldiers and their families to call to talk about personal issues privately. Soldiers will also be eligible for six face-to-face counseling sessions with professional civilian counselors outside the chain of command, allowing privacy for soldiers who are concerned that this may impact their career.
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