This is a sad story that you never hear much about:
When he arrived at Fort Stewart with hundreds of other soldiers Friday, Spc. Brian Jasper didn’t know what to do next.
“Where do we go? Are we allowed to leave?” he asked, but most of the soldiers around him were locked in emotional embraces with wives and other family members.
The 24-year-old from Cincinnati was one of more than 20 single soldiers in Task Force 1-64’s Charlie Company who returned to cramped barracks and unfamiliar roommates Friday.
“It feels so weird being here,” Jasper said, giving several soldiers farewell high-fives as they departed with their families. “I don’t even know what to do after 11 months of being told what to do every day.”
Jasper’s dilemma is a common one among returning soldiers.
And for those who are single, experts say readjusting to peacetime life in the U.S. can be especially difficult.
“Families are often an anchor for soldiers coming back, in terms of helping them get grounded more in the here and now, and at some times helping them process the experience they’ve been through,” said Dr. David Baltzell, a psychiatrist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center’s post-traumatic stress disorder clinic.
When I returned from the Gulf to my base in Germany, even though it was great to be back at my base, it was terribly lonely returning and having no one there. The married soldiers had their children and their wives, others had their fiance to be with, and the single soldier had a barracks room. We had a very tight knit unit (as are most overseas units), and the wives and support groups tried to make it easy for the single guys, but all they really wanted to do was see their loved ones (and who could blame them). Seems like the same thing is being replayed again:
The single soldiers of Charlie Company returned to the nearby barracks to find their beds made and refrigerators stocked with beer, soda and food prepared by the wives of others in the company.
“It was important for me to know that the single soldiers had something waiting for them when they got home,” said Susan Conroy, wife of Capt. Jason Conroy, the commander of Charlie Company. “I knew all the married guys would be going home with their families.”
Some spent the night in the barracks recovering from their journey, which took them from Kuwait to Frankfurt, Germany, to Savannah in less than 24 hours. Others headed out to bars in Hinesville, where they were welcomed with drink specials and marquis messages.
“Welcome Home 3rd ID, Drink & Drown,” read the sign outside the Hurricanes bar.
How many of these single guys are going to get drunk, get in trouble, and suffer military punishment? NCO’s, this is your responsibility- these are still your men. Don’t fail them in garrison.