PALM DESERT, Calif. - One hundred and fifteen post-deployed sailors and their guests took part in a Returning Warrior Workshop hosted by Navy Region Southwest Reserve Component Command at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, Calif., Aug. 24-25.
Vice Chief of Information Rear Adm. Victor "Vic" Beck attended the RWW and spoke at the formal dinner called the banquet of honor.
“While we gather together this weekend to honor our shipmates and our families for their sacrifices, we do so also to give you warriors an opportunity to relax and reconnect, to be introspective and to learn about services that are available,” said Beck.
Representatives from over a dozen different organizations were available over the weekend to answer questions and hand out resource materials. The resources provided information concerning job assistance programs, psychological health outreach, housing assistance and other available services.
Several of the workshops and seminars provided counseling and strategies for overcoming communication difficulties experienced by returning deployed sailors and their families.
Retired Navy SEAL Capt. Bob Schoultz discussed the “Code of the Warrior,” during which he showed clips from popular war movies.
“You see these heroes for a little while on a big screen in a movie but you don’t see them 20 years later – angry and bitter and alone because they never dealt with their issues,” said Schoultz. “The key part of why we are here today is to share each other’s stories - both homefront heroes and our warriors. Take a risk, tell your story.”
Navy Region Southwest chaplain Capt. Robert Crossan also encouraged the participants to communicate their experiences.
“I think you come back changed by the deployment,” Crossan said. “It doesn’t mean that you are changed for the worse or changed for the better necessarily; just changed, which is why it is valuable to explore that whole process.”
During the weekend, workshop facilitators focused on discussing ways to improve the deployment process, deal with stress and finances and conveyed the need to encourage continued discussions and engage in deeper communication with family and loved ones.
One workshop led by Cmdr. Shelly Scheibeler, a reserve chaplain for Regional Operation Center Navy Region Southeast, centered on facilitating conversations that may not transpire otherwise.
“No matter how far in the past the deployment was, there is still a lot of stuff hidden under the rug,” said Scheibeler.
Scheibeler acknowledged that people don’t often voluntarily create these conversations and stated that returning warriors often just want to pick up and move on from where they left off resulting in building up walls because the conversations never happen.
“The RWW helps bring down those walls and helps each other understand and appreciate what each other went through,” said Scheibeler.
Scheibeler encouraged participants to urge other returning veterans to attend an RWW, stating that there are benefits to the returning veterans regardless of how long ago the deployment occurred.
“It is life changing,” said Scheibeler. “Anybody who has been deployed as an individual augmentee or mobilized as a reservist should go through one of these workshops because of how powerful it is to help reintegrate and get back in to the step of life they left behind.”
Contact your regional coordinator if you are interested in enrolling in an RWW and reserve a seat at one of the next workshops in your region at www.ia.navy.mil.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrnpasew/.