National Guard unit continues reintegration training

by Tammy Sakry
Staff Writer

While soldiers stationed in Kuwait enjoyed a steak dinner with their families via the Internet as part of the Serving Our Troops event Feb. 25, another group of soldiers and their families reported to the Anoka Technical College for their 60-day reintegration training.

Elise Knutson, daughter of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tom Knutson and his wife Rhiannon, looked through the post-deployment resilience training packet for couples as 2nd Lt. E

The 60 members of the National Guard Company B 2-211th, a Chinook helicopter unit, flew 1,790 missions, with a total of 48,040 passengers and 4,073,211 pounds of cargo while in Iraq for a year as well as provided inspections and scheduled and unscheduled maintenance support.

And in August 2011, they were welcomed by families overjoyed to have them home.

But now the honeymoon period is over and problems are starting to crop up, said 2nd Lt. Edgar Moore, one of the National Guard’s resilience training officers.

Some soldiers are having problems with normalcy, he said.

These reintegration sessions give them the tools to know what to expect, anticipate possible reactions to situations and identify the strengths they have gained going through the deployment, Moore said.

During the Saturday training, soldiers had a chance meet with representatives from several service organizations as well as attend interactive sessions on parenting after deployment and financial planning as well as job interviews after which they had their interview performances evaluated by staff from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

For couples, Moore held interactive sessions on how to use the resilience skills they learned during deployment to improve their relationships.

There was also a session for single soldiers on how to handle the loss of the support system they had with their war buddies during the deployment.

These sessions are good and offer a lot of resources, said Summer Wagner, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Wagner.

This deployment was very different than Wagner’s first deployment in 2006.

During the first deployment, “we didn’t have kids,” Summer said.

This time the couple have two children, a two-and a half-year-old daughter and a six-month-old son.

They used Skype and a Magic Jack, Internet phone service, to keep in touch.

The reintegration classes are tailored to what soldiers have going on in their lives, said Ryan Wagner, a flight engineer.

For the Wagners, who are expecting their third child in August, the day included sessions on communicating and parenting.

It was nice to hear what others are going through and how the kids are reacting to different things, Summer said.

“We learned that we are doing pretty good,” she said.

For Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Czarnetzki, the 60-day reintegration day was about job hunting.

After flight school, he was deployed and now he is trying to translate his pilot training into the job market, said the 29-year-old Big Lake resident.

The 60-day reintegration sessions provided him with a lot of resources and pointed out things he did not think of, said Czarnetzki, who is looking for a job in logistics or emergency management fields.

Among the information he gathered was veteran-friendly job websites as well as other websites, like Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.

Czarnetzki is also learning to be a parent.

His 15-month-old daughter was born three weeks before Czarnetzki deployed for the first time.

While it was not the best, he was able to watch his daughter grow up on Facebook and Skype, he said.

Czarnetzki now takes care of his daughter while his wife of four years is at work as a nurse.

“It’s been a bit of a transition,” Czarnetzki said.

The reintegration has a lot of good information for people with kids, married couples as well as single soldiers, he said.

“Everyone is here to help (the soldiers),” Czarnetzki said.

The soldiers and their families do not always know the new resiliency skills they have gained during the deployment or how to use them in the transition back to civilian life, said Moore, who also works with the family readiness academies.

The training session are still fairly new, since 2008, he said.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]