JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Spouses of Soldiers currently deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, attended the brigade’s Welcome Home Academy held on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Oct. 19.
The event featured a variety of classes and group discussions on financial planning, relationship workshops, helping children through redeployment and how to deal with physical or emotional problems that could come up as a result of the deployment.
“We just really want the brigade’s spouses to be as prepared as possible when their Soldiers come home,” said Caroline S. Webster, 3rd SBCT Family Readiness Group Adviser and wife of Col. Chuck Webster, 3rd SBCT commander. “I feel like it’s important to come here and get the information, get the resources and prepare yourself.”
Webster, whose husband is gone for the couple’s third deployment, stressed the need to not only inform wives who were going through their first deployment but also those who have gone through deployments in the past.
“I think the more ‘senior’ you get, the more you feel like this is for first-timers, but it’s not,” said Webster. “A lot of our families have experienced deployments to Iraq and not to Afghanistan, and this can be a very different deployment for them because they haven’t had the [internet] connectivity that they were used to having in Iraq.”
Toni L. Archambault, who is going through her fourth deployment with her husband Maj. Matthew T. Archambault, agreed the training was something she could use to make the transition from life without her husband easier after he returns.
“I’m impressed. This is the first time I’ve really had [training] for the families left behind for their reintegration,” said Archambault. “It’s been nice to talk about emotions and the different feelings we are going to have and that our husbands are having as well and to know that other people are going through the same things.
“My husband actually deployed for a year before we arrived at JBLM and within two weeks we found out he was leaving again,” she said. “That’s why I feel like like these are really important, because for some of us, we’ve been away from them longer than we’ve been together --so the transition back into our world is important.
“It’s not always easy to come back together, reintegrate and create this ‘new normal,’ but it helps going through training like this,” added Archambault.
Spouses separated from their loved ones by a first deployment were also on hand to take advantage of the training that was being offered.
“There was a lot of good information and a lot of good tools for us to use,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tiffany A. Brimmer, a squad leader at the Warrior Transition Battalion on JBLM. “I took a lot of notes.”
Brimmer and her fiancé, Staff Sgt. Jerry Abriam, an infantryman deployed with the 3rd SBCT, have both been deployed three times, but this is the first time as a couple that they have been separated by a military deployment.
“Because I’m in the military I like to do things by the book, I’m very organized and it’s important to always be in control,” said Brimmer. “I’ve learned from the training that it’s OK to relinquish some control and it’s OK for him to feel like he needs to do things to help out and also to let him know that I’m not perfect and I might have let some things slide.”
Webster said every redeploying unit should have a similar program.
“I feel like this is a quality program, and we have put a lot of thought into it,” she said. “It worked for the brigade’s last deployment, and it’s working even better this time, and I think every spouse should be able to experience this.”