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HEIDELBERG, Germany — After more than a year in Iraq, Maj. Jonathan Sirmon can imagine no better way to start off the day than taking his 3-year-old daughter to day care.

As part of a seven-day reintegration program for troops returning from the Middle East, providing time for such quality moments is all part of the plan.

The weeklong program puts all returning troops on a half-day schedule with four hours “on duty” for a checklist full of required briefings, medical screenings and assorted paperwork. The rest of the day is set aside for family time and taking care of personal business.

“Most soldiers will probably want to go on leave right away, but there’s a few things that need to be taken care of and this is a pretty good way to do it,” said Sirmon, a personnel officer for V Corps and among the first trickle of troops that began arriving last week.

“I love the half-day thing!” said Cpl. Darienne Lavine, a V Corps legal expert. “It gives you time to sleep in a little, make appointments, deal with the car and the house. It’s great.”

Lavine’s husband has also been deployed, so it’s up to her to get their household in order.

“I’d rather get all this done now and then go on block leave, than wait and have it all hanging over my head when I get back,” she said. “At least this way there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Sgt. 1st Class Fausto E. Gomez agrees. “It’s much better to get your personal matters taken care of first.”

Gomez, V Corps’ Bradley Fighting Vehicle master gunner, said he’s eager to visit his parents in New York and enjoy some “tropical time” in the Dominican Republic.

“Getting all this out of the way now gives me peace of mind that all my shots are in order, that my registration isn’t expired,” he said.

“I know everything is taken care of.”


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