MONTGOMERY – Returning Alabama troops who experience psychological or emotional difficulties as they readjust to life back home have a new tool to help them.
During an event at the State Capitol on Thursday, Governor Bob Riley unveiled the Reintegration Action Plan (RAP), a 63-page book that includes information, action items and ideas to help returning service members successfully make the transition.
The RAP will be distributed to returning troops and is available on the internet at www.alabamareturningveterans.org.
A Pentagon task force last year found that thousands of U.S. military personnel, including nearly half of all Army National Guard soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, reported psychological problems when they came home.
“When you consider these brave men and women are expected to go from hell to their hometowns in a short period of time, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they go through an incredible amount of stress,” Governor Riley said.
“Many returning service members do not expect that they will have a difficult time readjusting, and some won’t. But many will. They’ve just gone through a trying time and have been away from home for many months or longer. The Reintegration Action Plan will help get them through this tough transition.”
The RAP was developed through a collaborative effort of many different organizations that came together as the Alabama Returning Veterans Committee.
Organizations that developed the plan include the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the Veterans Administration, Operation Grateful Heart, the Alabama Psychological Association, and Still Serving Veterans.
“The better you understand the readjustment process and develop an action plan to deal with obstacles, the easier will be your return. You will experience many things during your time of readjustment. It is important to know that every service member in this conflict and in previous wars has experienced similar issues,” the Reintegration Action Plan states in its introduction. “There are effective ways to deal with these difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings so that they don’t derail your readjustment.”
Governor Riley said he is thankful that America is embracing the troops who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan and contrasted today’s welcoming atmosphere to the one that greeted Vietnam veterans.
“Many Vietnam veterans came home and felt abandoned or ignored – or worse. We cannot let that ever happen again,” the Governor said.
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