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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — When returning home from combat, it is normal to feel combat-related stress, but ignoring it is the wrong way to deal with it, says a counselor at Camp Foster.

Servicemembers returning from combat see the world differently, even if they don’t realize it, said Shane Arnett, counseling and prevention supervisor at Camp Foster’s Counseling and Advocacy Program.

It is normal for them to feel like what they’re doing now isn’t important or that the world is moving slower, Arnett said.

Some even wish they were back in combat, he said.

Readjusting takes time, and it’s something troops have to work at, Arnett emphasized.

That’s just what Col. Thomas J. Connally, commander of Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, told a truck detachment of 30 Marines who returned Nov. 24 from a seven-month Iraq deployment.

“Don’t bury problems,” Connally told the Marines last week during Warrior Transition training. “Difficulties from facing combat can be resolved.”

Arnett said it’s common for Marines to “feel like, ‘I’m a Marine, and I’m just doing my job.’ ”

“But there is always a price to pay” for working in the stressful environment of combat, he said, “and they need some downtime to transition back to garrison” life.

“It’s an unfortunate effect of what we do,” Connally told his Marines. “We see ugly stuff. Seek help. It’s no reason to be ashamed.”

But many servicemembers think seeking help for combat stress will harm their careers.

Not true, Arnett said.

The leadership realizes “that combat stress is an injury, just like breaking your leg, and that it needs treatment,” he said. He also said symptoms can develop into post-traumatic stress disorder.

So if you’re having trouble sleeping, drinking more, becoming annoyed more easily or feeling like you don’t have fun anymore, seek help, he said.


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