Soldiers helping Soldiers

By Spc. Joseph K. VonNida | Colorado National Guard Public Affairs | September 28, 2009

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (9/22/09) – “Soldiers helping Soldiers” is the phrase coined by Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General of Colorado, to describe the new reintegration study conducted by U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Air Force Academy Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.

Soldiers at Colorado National Guard State headquarters were among the first to participate in this study.

“It’s time to hear the Soldiers themselves,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Lisa Sayegh, North American Aerospace Defense Command-USNORTHCOM Command mental health officer. “The big word is you.”

The data being collected will be used to determine the resiliency among Army National Guard veterans and what methods these veterans used to reintegrate into society and everyday life. The study will shift the focus of reintegration from what is wrong to what is right by using a bottom up approach.

“This is the first time I have seen an actual study on what makes Soldiers successfully resilient. By preventing failure we achieve success,” said Edwards. “This study focuses on the preventative versus the reactive. We want to stop the leak before it starts.”

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command awarded more than $400,000 to Sayegh for this study that is focused on the needs of the Soldiers instead of the needs of the force. The purpose is to learn how National Guard Soldiers have coped with the challenges of deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and reintegration afterward.

The title of the study emphasizes the concept that the Army can leverage the strengths of Soldiers who integrate well to help other Soldiers before, during and after deployments.

“I want to hear from you. What is helping you or not helping you, before your deployment or after your deployment, what is successful or not successful about the reintegration process?” asked Sayegh in her brief to the Soldiers.

Sayegh continued to explain that by knowing the coping factors helps anticipate being able to better prepare and train Soldiers, leaders and family members to support deployed Soldiers and manage the experience. The ultimate goal is to survey the data and find the common factors that are helping Soldiers integrate back into their pre-deployment lives.

The survey, which is anonymous and completely voluntary, focuses on how the Army can talk to you better; what questions need to be asked and what questions shouldn’t be asked.

“I want to learn from the Soldiers about the factors that facilitate a successful transition,” said Sayegh.

The results of the survey have the potential to improve the Guards reintegration preparatory programs. The Guard wants to improve how it prepares Soldiers and families for deployment stress which will make it easier to reintegrate.

Sayegh’s goal is to collect no fewer than 1,000 surveys and 100 interviews during the next 12 months. The results will be continuously analyzed and publication of results will begin as soon as patterns and trends begin to develop in the research.

“I can’t wait to see the results. I hope Colorado Soldiers provide significant support,” said Edwards.

Edwards also hopes that Colorado will be able to provide the Kansas National Guard with some input for the resiliency program it’s currently developing.

Participation is in person, online and over the phone. To participate in the survey online go to:
https://surveymonkey.com/arngsurvey

To schedule a follow up interview or for questions and concerns contact the research team at (719) 244-3313. Remember, the survey is anonymous.