Date: July 15, 2010
By Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez
Wisconsin National Guard
Efforts to draw down U.S. military forces in Iraq included a platoon-sized group of Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 724th Engineer Battalion, who earlier this week returned after being deployed approximately three months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to begin their demobilization process at Fort McCoy.
While the battalion continues its route clearance mission in Iraq, the Soldiers who voluntarily returned early - 23 from Wisconsin, five from Pennsylvania and two from Puerto Rico - now serve as a "test run" for the demobilization process for when the rest of the unit returns.
"So far, the demobilization process has been going smoothly for this group," said 1st Lt. Jared Seidl, a personnel officer in the 724th rear detachment.
Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, and Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin Army National Guard commander, stressed the importance of the reintegration and demobilization process to Soldiers during a July 14 visit to Fort McCoy.
"Take your time reintegrating," Anderson said. "Make sure you get your questions answered and take advantage of all the resources available to you and your families."
"You have skills the average person your age doesn't have and the public gives you great respect for putting on the uniform you wear," Dunbar said. He added it was great to have the Soldiers back home, and encouraged them to speak up if they have any questions regarding educational benefits and health or employment issues.
More than 500 Soldiers - the majority from Wisconsin, the rest from Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico - deployed to Iraq in late April and are scheduled to return early next year.