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Minnesota National Guard
Finding the new normal

Readjusting to civilian life is a long process, recently returned National Guard Soldiers said Programs like Sunday’s reintegration day are one way to help the process along

Photo by Jodelle Greiner
Staff Sgt Eric Brunsvold holds out his hands to his son, Caden, 17 months, who is held by his uncle, Sgt Ryan Brunsvold after the Welcome Home ceremony Sunday at the Marshall Middle School

MARSHALL - Military deployment is a cycle, Kelly Wasberg said You have to spend time mentally preparing to go, and time readjusting when you come home And you can't expect either of those periods to be short, he said

"I know I'm not all the way back yet," said Wasberg, a Marshall pastor and National Guard chaplain who returned to Minnesota this spring with the 1st Battalion 151st Field Artillery

When it came to going back home to his family and children, he said, "You can't just pick up where you left off You try to catch up as much as you can," and accept change

Dealing with change was what brought members of the 1-151 FA and their families to Marshall High School Sunday morning The Soldiers were completing the first portion of their reintegration with a day-long workshop

Reintegration events are held 30, 60, and 90 days after a unit comes back from overseas service Sunday's event, the 30-day requirement for local Guard members, included workshops and resources on topics from managing a budget to communicating with loved ones

"There's no doubt you have done something great," said Lt. Col. Barb O'Reilly, chief of deployment cycle support, in opening remarks to Soldiers The 1-151 FA traveled a total of 19 million miles on transport missions in the past year without an accident But knowledge of those accomplishments doesn't take away the stress of going back to civilian life, she said

"It's not necessarily a struggle," O'Reilly said of reintegration But it takes a lot of work - for example, a Soldier may need to search for a job, go back to school or get used to being a parent again

"We just want to give them the skills," she said, to make the transition easier

"They've got a lot of resources here for finding jobs, or helping people figure out what all their benefits are That's good too," said Mark Schulz, a Minneapolis resident and a member of the Marshall Guard unit One challenge facing a lot of returning Soldiers, Schulz said, is "Probably getting back into work"

Family members attending the event said it was good for them to get to participate, too

"I think it's very important, because we don't know what they've gone through," said Marshall resident Norma Gile of the reintegration program She was attending workshops Sunday along with her son Paul, who was deployed with the 1-151 FA

Norma Gile said the transition back to civilian life is different for every Soldier, but "It helps to know what to say, and to let them do their own thing in their own time"

"When you come back, your job changes, your family has changed, you've changed," said Bonnie Wasberg, Kelly Wasberg's wife There's a lot to work out, and the reintegration programs can help family members to support their Soldiers

The opportunity to gather area Guard units together for reintegration was also key, said Minnesota National Guard State Command Sgt Maj Edward Scott Mills Mills was also present for Marshall's reintegration day

"It's a good opportunity for them to share what they're going through," Mills said Soldiers serving together build up shared experiences and a close bond Leaving your unit to go home can be stressful, "almost like being separated from your family," he said

Having everyone together also made it easier for the community to hold a formal welcome ceremony for the Marshall Guard unit later that afternoon

There will be a formal program for the 1-151 FA in Montevideo Aug 6, at the end of their reintegration period Battalion commander Scott St Sauver said the program will help serve as a formal farewell among members of the battalion, who have spent a year living and working together

By Deb Gau
POSTED: June 14, 2010

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