Families ready for troop return - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Families ready for troop return

March 16, 2006

Thomasville- Hundreds of South Georgia National Guard soldiers are serving in Iraq. In the next 90 days all of the soldiers with the 48th Brigade will come home. The 48th Family Assistance Center is working to help with what can be a difficult adjustment.

A picture of Oneida Carter's husband is close to her work station and heart, but for the last 18 months, Sergeant Bernard Carter has served in Iraq. She's anxious for his return, but knows it won't be easy.

"The relationship will be different, because you have to re-learn the person that's been gone, been in the war zone, so trying to relearn that person will be different," said Oneida Carter.

This weekend the Family Assistance Center will hold counseling sessions in Macon to help families with the upcoming transition, because for soldiers returning, it's like driving fast in the slow lane.

"When they come home from Iraq, they have to learn to adjust to not being in a constant state of awareness, for some of them it's hard," said Melissa Dalton, 48th Family Assistance Ctr. Coordinator.

"I think a lot of people, think they will come in as they left, and they're not the same people," said Carter.

The Family Assistance Center encourages families to have empathy and understanding and not to expect too much. They also encourage families to seek help.

"There's a third of them who will end up needing some kind of mental health, and that's not a weakness, that just means they need some help knowing how to deal with the situation they've been exposed to," said Dalton.

Oneida already has her support system in place.

"I think with a lot of prayer and support from the church, from the community, like they've already done; I think the change will be, it's a change that I'm expecting to come so I know that I have to work through the change." said Carter.

Changes that might be tough at first, but that she expects to work through in the end. For those interested in the Macon counseling session this Sunday, there is still space available.

There will be a session for families closer to home April first at the VFW Post 2785 on Philema Road in Albany. You can contact the Family Assistance Center for more information.

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