Soldiers adjust to being back in the world - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Soldiers adjust to being back in the world

U.S. Army Col. George Smawley U.S. Army Col. George Smawley
Donna Smawley Donna Smawley
Amanda Koren Amanda Koren
Hank Cashen Hank Cashen

WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Now that he's back from deployment, U.S. Army Col. George Smawley has new marching orders and domestic deadlines.

"I had to clean the cars. I've got to work on our taxes. I have to go to Wet'n'Wild with my six-year-old," he said.

His daughter, Emma, was four when he deployed, and a lot has changed.

"The discipline has changed. She's changed incredibly in a year," said his wife Donna Smawley, who's also in the Army.

"There's a power and presence that is lost during a deployment. And you've got to rebuild those relationships," George Smawley said.

There's a lot of relationship rebuilding going on at Schofield since hundreds of soldiers returned from Iraq. The Army Community Service Center helps them reintegrate to life away from war.

Amanda Koren heads up the volunteers.

"You really have to work at communicating again as a couple. And that's huge," she said.

With the Iraq war ended, the center is busy. Between last October and December, it had 85,000 contacts with soldiers and spouses. Instructors teach things like parenting and family finances.

"While the soldier is deployed, they're getting more money," director Hank Cashen said. "When they come back they have to regroup and say, 'Okay, we're going back to our pre-deployment level of finances. How are we going to manage the money?'"

Tripler Army Medical Center helps soldiers suffering from depression and post traumatic stress. The Army screens them before they return and 90 to 180 days after they've gotten home.

"That's been shown when the real issues are going to come up. When the post traumatic stress starts to evolve, or a substance abuse issue, or marital problems," Tripler director of psychiatry Col. C.J. Diebold said.

The Army advises soldiers to not make any big decisions within the first thirty days after they get back.

"And don't try to reclaim the routine you had before you deployed," George Smawley said. "Adjust to the one that you come home to."

There's nothing routine about reintegration. The Smawley's said it takes work to make it work.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved

Powered by Frankly