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    72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team advanced liaison team Sets Tone for Bliss-full Demobilization

    72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team ADVON Sets Tone for Bliss-full Demobilization

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright | Chief Warrant Officer Juan Medrano (left), Human Resources second in command for the...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Melissa Bright 

    72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (36th ID, TXARNG)

    FORT BLISS, Texas - Representatives from units deployed to Iraq with the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, converged on Fort Bliss in early July to facilitate the administrative, medical and other out-processing activities required for release from active duty of approximately 2900 Soldiers still participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 72nd IBCT.

    This advanced liaison team, led by Col. David Madden, the 72nd IBCT deputy commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Sublett, the brigade deputy command sergeant major, is comprised of representatives from human resources, supply, operations, legal and public affairs and supported by the communications and information team.

    They will be assisting the Fort Bliss Mobilization and Deployment Brigade over the course of the next seven weeks to expedite the movement of the 22 units under the 72nd IBCT back to their home stations scattered across Texas.

    The brigade spent over a year preparing and training for the variety of missions they would be required to perform across the country of Iraq; from convoy and detainee-facility security to the administrative over-watch of the International Zone. Their homecoming was no different and took just as much planning and coordination.

    The demobilization process is designed to ensure the medical and dental health of the returning soldier is assessed and remedial actions are started if not completed; finance and personnel records are updated; legal and entitlement briefings are attended; and logistics files are made current before units or individuals are released for movement back to their home stations.

    Traditionally, it is also a time for the higher headquarters leadership to show their support for a job well done. Often they are the first ones to greet the planes as they arrive and talk with the troops they were unable to visit with while overseas.

    Brig. Gen. James K. Brown was on hand July 10 to greet the first unit to return to the U.S.; Echo Company of the 536th Brigade Support Battalion out of Fredericksburg, Texas, led by Capt. Melissa Brown, of San Antonio, and 1st Sgt. Rogelio Hernandez, of Kingwood.

    "Welcome back! I want to thank you for your service and let you know how much we appreciate each and every one of you. While you are here at Ft. Bliss, you will get the best possible care and we will get you out of here as quick as we can but I want each of you to remember, that while you may be back in the states, your mission is not complete until you are safely and effectively back home so take it easy, get through the briefings and make it through the next couple of days," said Brig. Gen. Brown.

    Brig. Gen. Brown is currently serving as the Director, Joint Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, of the Texas Army National Guard. He assists the Assistant Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. John F. Nichols, with direct operational oversight on all Joint Staff matters; manages policies and operational missions; and ensures effective utilization of Texas National Guard forces.

    He was also on hand to observe the departure process in December of 2009. Now, as then, the units cycled through the Deployment Readiness Center complex.

    The DRC is comprised of a number of permanent and temporary buildings where Soldiers receive their preliminary briefings; receive their initial check for potential medical issues, and serves as a starting point for capturing any administrative concerns.

    Additionally, before the units process out of Ft. Bliss, all soldiers will meet with behavioral health representatives to mitigate the need for immediate crisis intervention, short term and long-term support for emotional needs and monitor for signs of stress.

    This is an Army-wide initiative that has been spearheaded by the highest level of military leadership and is fully supported by Col. Mark Campsey, the 72nd IBCT commander.

    "Our Soldiers and families are our best assets; we need to support them as best we can."

    This support is continued throughout the demobilization process; in addition to meeting with MH reps., Soldiers will have briefings on how to manage expectations over the coming months in terms of family adjustments.

    After the initial medical processing, the Soldiers will move to the Transition Assistance piece of the out-processing.

    This is a status check on the individual's permanent records; promotion points are captured, missing documentation is identified and issues are addressed.

    The 72nd IBCT leadership has a long history of staying hands-on when it comes to dealing with Soldier issue and therefore have made provisions to provide brigade representatives to assist as needed throughout this process.

    "It is our responsibility to ensure the every Soldier completes all required demobilization tasks as smoothly as possible, including a meticulous review of records, medical screening, and transition preparations. When we return to our home-stations, each and every one of our soldiers should feel as though they received the best assistance possible," said Maj. August Murray, the 72nd IBCT Human Resources officer.

    This hands-on, proactive approach by Campsey and Murray led to the development of a Soldier Support area specifically to concentrate on concerns expressed by Soldiers outside of those normally addressed by a formal demobilization.

    A survey was created by the 72nd brigade's HR team and administered through Army Knowledge Online in May of 2010 to determine what most concerned Soldiers about their return to civilian life after the deployment.

    The overall results indicated a large percentage of mobilized Soldiers were concerned about finding employment and paying for higher education.

    This led Campsey and Command Sgt. Maj. Alfred Cordova, the brigade command sergeant major, to support the development of a Web page on AKO and a hand-book addressing these two specific issues.

    It also opened the door to the development of the Soldier Support Center which sits just outside the DRC complex and consists of two large, air-conditioned tents.

    One tent is completely engaged as an internet café. It is available 24-hours a day and is specifically for use by the soldiers processing through DRC to print off copies of missing documentation or communicate with individuals that may have access to the needed paperwork.

    The second tent is manned with representatives from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the Texas Workforce Commission/Texas Veteran Leadership Program, the National Guard Transition Assistance team from Austin and the 36th Infantry Division retention team.

    Cedar Park resident, Jacinda Johnson, the transition assistance advisor from Camp Mabry in Austin, is no stranger to supporting soldiers coming back from deployment.

    "I am married to a service member and have experienced their needs and the needs of their family first- hand. I have been working Soldier readiness for the last seven years, specifically with Transition Assistance since 2007."

    Johnson sits in front of a table full of pamphlets, brochures and sign-up sheets designed to provide the maximum amount of information to the Soldiers on a wide range of topics.

    "I am here to answer questions and point them in the direction on how to best take advantage of their benefits. There is assistance with everything from mental health issues to figuring out which GI Bill is applicable for each individual. After explaining the differences between programs, I always recommend the Soldier speak with a career counselor to see which plan delivers the most benefits. For some, the new GI Bill just doesn't make sense."

    The desire shown by the 72nd IBCT leadership to empower soldiers to achieve more with their military and civilian careers and improve their educational base while at the demobilization site is complimented by the proactively charged individuals serving under MAD BDE.

    "These individuals have demonstrated time and again they are completely dedicated to provide the best care possible to our returning troops," said Madden.

    "Our purpose is to provide a warm welcome to include spiritual and psychological support to all arriving personnel as they return from their mission in support of OIF," writes MAD BDE Commander, Col. James Green, in the operational order provided for every incoming unit.

    They, along with the individuals that are part of the 72nd IBCT ADVON, have a unique opportunity to welcome their colleagues home, remind them of how much they've accomplished as a team, and set them up for success in their next and most important mission; the homecoming.

    "From the moment they step off the plane and begin their REFRAD process, we do our very best to get them ready to go home. They are given a hot meal and a comfortable place to sleep, transportation where they need to be and where they might want to go. We walk them through the out-processing procedures and ensure their needs are continually met."

    "We are proud of all our Soldiers accomplished before and during their deployment and believe completely they deserve nothing less, and are doing as much as we can to get them taken care of and home safely" concluded Madden.



    Date Taken: 07.09.2010
    Date Posted: 07.14.2010 18:32
    Story ID: 52838
    Location: FORT BLISS, TX, US

    Web Views: 744
    Downloads: 133