Army Program Aims To Decrease Soldier Deaths & Injuries After Deployment
December 27, 2007
Too often, Soldiers survive the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and return home to their families, only to become involved in a vehicle accident or other kind of accident, and be seriously injured or even killed. The Army, recognizing that there is a problem, has developed a new program aimed at increasing safety and decreasing serious injury or death after a Soldier returns home from a deployment.
A new Army-wide program has been implemented with the intention of helping family members keep Soldiers from making mistakes, after returning home from deployment, that could be fatal. The program, which is called the Family Engagement kit, has the goal of lowering the number of injuries and deaths among Soldiers returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to CSM Tod L. Gildwell, who’s a member of the Army’s Combat Readiness Center.
“Families can help,” Gildwell said. “Families have a powerful influence on Soldiers’ lives.”
According to Gildwell, last year, 186 Soldiers died within 12 months of returning home from deployments. Approximately two-thirds of those deaths occurred within the first 6 months home. Most of the incidents were involving motor vehicle accidents and occurred when the Soldier was off duty.
“As a Soldier comes back to life in garrison, it’s a very turbulent time,” Gildwell said.
When a Soldier is deployed in a combat zone, their days are often filled with adrenalin, but there are also things that restrict their behavior, such as not being allowed to drink. Once they return home, their unit leadership might change, so a new commander might be less likely to notice changes in the Soldier’s behavior. Also training schedules and reintegration trainings change the normal routine. At the same time, the Soldier’s are now able to have more freedom and some may fall prey to temptations that may lead to making risky decisions.
The Family Engagement Kit includes 6 tools meant to assist Soldiers and their families in thinking through decisions, in regards to long-distance trips, riding motorcycles or ATV’s and the consumption of alcohol. The kit also includes reminders to the families to look out for over-exertion during exercise and signs of PTSD, all things that can contribute to risky decision making and possibly lethal mistakes. The kits are available to the families through the Family Readiness Groups, at all Army bases worldwide.