I have experienced firsthand the feeling of being welcomed home after a deployment. I deployed as an Active Duty Soldier. As the time drew closer to returning home the anticipation and anxiety continued to build until it seemed almost overwhelming at times. The moment the plane landed and my boots hit American soil, the welcome was felt in the cheers of the crowd, the music, the embraces, the welcome home banners, and the entire celebration. I returned to the installation where I was assigned – an installation surrounded with military families and a military community.
I’m sure my experience was different than Soldiers who deploy while assigned to the Army Reserve. I have welcomed home Soldiers assigned to Army Reserve units that I support. I was there when my brother, a Soldier assigned to an Army Reserve unit, boarded the bus to leave for deployment. I was there when he returned to a demobilization site to welcome him home. It is different from my personal experience, because while some deploy as a unit, most of these Soldiers deploy as individuals and are later assigned to an unfamiliar unit. The welcome home is different, because these Soldiers do not return to an Active Duty Installation that they were assigned to and that they called home. Soldiers assigned to the Army Reserve are “Warrior Citizens” from all over and not always from a military community. Because of this, many of them may live in communities with little to no understanding of military life let alone the effects of deployment on Soldiers and the struggles they may experience upon returning home.
Today, was the first time I was a part of welcoming home Soldiers within my own command, Army Reserve Careers Division (ARCD). ARCD conducted its “Welcome Home Warrior Citizen” ceremony for the Soldiers who returned home from deployment within the last year. More than twenty five Soldiers and their families were honored in gratitude of the service and sacrifices that were made in support of the “Global War On Terror”. Every Soldier, every Leader knows that the family unit is vitally important to the success of the Army Reserve. Their sacrifices are just as great, equally important, and infinitely appreciated.
Share your experience. Whether you are a family member or a Soldier, share your thoughts. What did you appreciate most about your welcome home and what do you think could be improved upon?