The dedicated and professional citizen-soldiers of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard continue to support their mobilized colleagues deployed throughout the world in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Noble Eagle as well as Family Assistance activities which benefit our military families here at home. It’s been a long 41 months since September 11th, but finally, some of our personnel have completed their tours and are returning home.
As our fellow citizen-soldiers rotate back from their extended deployments, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that this transition process meets their needs, the needs of their families, and the needs of their civilian employers.
First and foremost we need to give our troops appropriate recognition for their service. The successful homecoming events we already have conducted for returning units has been a good, first step towards accomplishing this goal.
Second, we need to assure a smooth transition from a combat environment back to civilian life. We need to make sure that all returning Guardmembers receive every benefit and entitlement they have earned by virtue of their patriotic service.
Finally, for those individuals who need assistance, we need to eliminate any possible hesitation they may have in applying for help by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy and making these support services more accessible.
At DMAVA, we have the added benefit of having the Division of Veterans Programs and its substantial resources right here within our organization. Part of our plan to facilitate the transition of our returning soldiers and airmen includes the active participation of expert veterans services personnel, the members of our New Jersey Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee, our extended Family Programs staff, and our chaplain corps. We have developed a comprehensive, multi-level, interorganizational approach that integrates our state Veterans Service Officers with their associated and related Army and Air military activities. Families have the option of participating in “return home workshops” available through each of our Family Readiness Groups.
However, the effort to address the needs of our returning troops and their families should not end with merely making services or resources more readily available. The“ Total Guard”, which includes family, friends, colleagues, community, unit commanders, and the entire chain of command, needs to be proactive. We all must be part of the effort to encourage our returning heroes to seek the assistance and resources that can make their homecoming less challenging.
I urge each and every returning soldier or airman and
their family members to take full advantage of the services
and assistance we can provide. Do not try to handle this
difficult transition alone. When you were called to extended
active duty service, you answered. Now it’s our turn to
demonstrate our profound gratitude for your selfless service,
to show our collective appreciation for the many
hardships and sacrifices both you and your families had to
endure; and to give back to each of you, in some way, a
small part of the tremendous gift you have given us and all
the people of America.