KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan A new proactive approach tool conceived by a Kandahar Province chaplain the Warriors Huddle promises to help alleviate the stresses Soldiers face when redeploying and ease the transition back into life on the home front.
Devised by Combined Task Force-Arrowhead chaplain, Maj. Edward Choi, the Warriors Huddle was one of the major concepts discussed during Arrowheads Sergeants Major and Religious Support Teams Conference Aug. 1.
The Warriors Huddle principle emphasizes the creation of platoon and section support teams guided by young noncommissioned officers, ideally squad and platoon leaders. Within the small, close-knit teams, Soldiers are encouraged to share their stories, concerns and challenges. During the huddle, discussions surrounding a Soldiers responsibilities, experiences and future goals are often broached.
There is no one better to assist a Soldier with post-deployment issues than a fellow warrior, Choi said. Warrior-to-warrior, the Warriors Huddle can provide an opportunity for individuals to share their struggles and receive advice from peers who know the Soldier personally and are familiar with combat-related issues.
Choi, the senior chaplain in the task force, came up with the notion of a Warriors Huddle in 2007 after reading Tom Brokaws book The Greatest Generation. While reading the book, it dawned on Choi that the monthlong trip home via ship most troops took home after the conclusion of World War II gave them an opportunity to speak in depth with their fellow troops and decompress before arriving stateside.
Task Force Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Murphy said the Warriors Huddle made perfect sense. Its always been difficult for many Soldiers to open up and talk about their feelings, Murphy said. The Warriors Huddle is a great avenue for Soldiers to talk amongst themselves. Soldiers will talk to the young squad and platoon sergeants who do take care of their Soldiers.
The Warriors Huddle was only one of several tools discussed by the more than 30 sergeants major and chaplains in attendance at the proactive conference designed to give senior enlisted leaders and chaplains some initial behavioral-health tools to assist the task forces approximately 7,000 Soldiers as they transition back to their home base at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, within a few months. The Soldiers in the Task Force are composed of troops from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Another key concept discussed in detail was Comprehensive Soldier Fitness for redeployed troops. Choi underlined the importance of all aspects of well-rounded fitness including physical, social, family, spiritual and emotional well-being.
We are taking a holistic approach to comprehensive Soldier fitness, Choi said. Every aspect of fitness must be addressed in order for Soldiers and Families to deal with combat-related issues.
Choi said there were two battalions of the same size in the same brigade that participated in the troop surge in Iraq from 2006 to 2007.
After redeployment from Iraq the battalion that used the Warriors Huddle upon redeployment suffered two suicides; the battalion that didnt include Warriors Huddle in its redeployment process incurred nine suicides.
The Warriors Huddle helps us identify high-risk Soldiers who we can help before they harm themselves and it leads to a reduction in serious post-deployment incidents, Choi said. Its proactive versus reactive, because by the time a Soldier seeks the support of a chaplain or behavioral health specialist, its sometimes too late.