Injustice

What an injustice the Army has done to our National Guard soldiers. They have done this by thinking they are doing them a favor. The Army tries to get NG soldiers back with their families as soon as they can after leaving a combat zone. They seem to think that getting them back home as soon as possible is the best thing for them and what everyone wants. It may be what the soldier and family wants and the moment, but it is performing an injustice in the long run. The soldiers are literally thrown from a combat zone to sitting in their living rooms in less than 21 days, and that is on the long end. It could be as short as 14 days. When OIF first started, the Army had planned to run every NG soldier through a 1 ½ month demob process, slowly getting them back to a non-combat environment and normal life. However for many political, and resource reasons the Army has shortened this to about 5-9 days and then back home. After 3 days at home, they come back into the armory for a few days of follow up demob classes and then they are back home. They do not return to the Armory for normal drills for at least 90 days.
Active duty soldiers typically are given a 14-21 day block leave at home and then they are back at their bases and with their fellow soldiers. This is good because the honeymoon is still happening in those first few weeks and any issues that may arise or develop will happen when they are back at base. Also, being with their battle-buddies in a peace time environment, coming off the high, and talking through their experiences helps them with the process of returning from combat. Being thrown back to the normal civilian life, weeks off before they have to go back to work or back to drill and sitting with family and friends who cannot relate to what the soldier has been through can be very damaging. In the long run, alcoholism runs rampant, relationships fall apart, risky behavior increases, depression sets in, and jobs are hard to keep.

The Army needs to stop going for the short term win and instead keep soldiers on Active Duty longer so they can slowly decompress. It took a year or less of constant combat to get that NG soldier to that state of mind and nature, it sure will take more than 3 weeks to get them out of it.

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