I returned from TSIRT yesterday.
Each training day at Grafenwoehr involved several blocks of basic soldiering skills training. The days were long and broken only by short lunch breaks. We wore our ballistic armor and helmets the whole time unless we were in a classroom. We lived in ten man barracks rooms.
Many people talk about how soldiers must re-acclimate themselves to garrison or civilian life after returning from a deployment. We have to consider that the difficulties presented in “reintegration” are not entirely because of the stresses of actual bullet-flying combat. They also stem from the alien atmosphere. When deployed, Soldiers get no days off. Everyday is a day at the office. In some ways I think that this is a good thing. There’s not much to do on a FOB in Afghanistan besides work, though the internet and XBOX can help with boredom. So can a good book and PT. But generally, constant work can make the days go by much quicker. But I also think it can change a person. When someone works that much for that long, they become almost like a robot, and when they return, they may feel out of sorts.
Even after only a week in the field, when the training was constant and all I thought about was when the next formation was or how to properly perform a skill, I found that my return to garrison and to my apartment left me feeling as if I’d stepped onto alien soil. All the people buzzing around the base. You wonder what you’ve missed since you were gone. The smells, too. Grafenwoehr is basically a giant forest, so you smell nature the whole time you’re there. When I first walked into my apartment, I smelled–and still do right now–my wood floors. I can’t remember smelling them since I’ve moved in.