Apr 11, 2011 6:50 PM by Matt Stafford

Local soldiers give advice to the ones just getting home

Local soldiers, looking for ways to deal with their own stress since returning from war, are trying to help soldiers just coming home by giving advice on how make the transition that has been tough for so many.

The Army begins screening soldiers right when they get home to see who needs help. Captain Brett Kelley works with Fort Carson's Transition Command, which has about 700 soldiers who are home and most of whom are medically discharging from the Army.

"We do a pretty good job, but obviously if you have eight-thousand, nine-thousand soldiers coming back you're going to have a lot of issues," says Capt. Kelley.

That's what they're preparing for at Fort Carson.

"Third Brigade Combat Team is just getting back; their strength is about 38-hundred," says Capt. Kelley. "Then we'll have First Brigade coming back here in a few months; that will be another 35-hundred to four-thousand." Kelley also adds that 4th Infantry Division Headquarters will also be coming back soon.

"That's a lot of guys coming home," says Capt. Kelley.

Captain Kelley is looking for ways to help his unit. He met Antione Johnson, who runs the Warrior Relaxation Response Center in Colorado Springs, at meetings on post. He started listening to Johnson's ideas and then decided to bring some of his soldiers by to check it out.

"We connected from that point on," says Johnson. He says that with so many soldiers coming back there is going to be a large need for services for them in the community.

Johnson is working with K Company soldiers in the Transition Command using Cognitive Therapy, conditioning the body and mind's reaction to stress. He says he sees a lot of tense soldiers in the community.

"You think that you leave that in-country, but in reality there's things that you brought back with you," says Adrian Durazo, talking about the stress he's faced since getting home.

Durazo suggests the soldiers coming home now should go ahead and start looking for help; he says they shouldn't wait until they experience problems.

"All my friends back home are like, what happened to you over there?" explains Seth Shacklett. "They just can't get over the fact that it's been that stressful, it's kind of rewired me so-to-speak." Shacklett says when he hears about the numbers coming home right now, he knows many of them will need help.

"They'll all have it to certain degrees, depending on what all they've seen," explains Shacklett; saying not all of the soldiers will have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but that most of them will have personal tension to deal with.

Shacklett's advice to soldiers coming home is to try different things to see what works for them. He says it's taken him several tries to find a combination of treatments that keep him on an even keel.

Captain Kelley is trying a similar trial-and-error technique; just trying to find something to help his soldiers.

"Further down the road we'll be able to gain some better metrics and see how it actually benefited the guys," Capt. Kelley. One thing is for sure though; he'll keep looking for what does help.

For more on the Warrior Relaxation Response Center, click on this link.


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