Officials Working to Help Stryker Brigade Soldiers, Families

WASHINGTON, August 2, 2006

The Army is taking significant steps to ensure soldiers and families of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team are taken care of now that the unitâ?Ts deployment to Iraq has been extended four months.

U.S. Army, Alaska leaders are working with higher headquarters to ensure support programs, including financial compensation and personnel support, are available to the soldiers, Army and Defense Department officials said.

â?oWe are responding rapidly to provide all the appropriate support and services to these outstanding patriotic professionals and their families, who continue to inspire us all with their unwavering commitment to duty in support of a nation at war,â? said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

The Army staff is forming a â?otiger team,â? an official team put together to deal with a specific issue, to deploy to Alaska and work directly with U.S. Army, Alaska on the problem and determine what specific areas need support, officials said. In the meantime, the Army has already taken many actions to ensure soldiers are taken care of.

The Army personnel command has ensured compensation measures, including assignment incentive pay, hostile fire pay, hardship duty pay, and family separation pay, are in place, officials said. The Army also will be contacting commercial airlines, cruise ships, and destination locations to seek reimbursement or accommodation for those soldiers and families who had planned vacations upon redeployment.

The Army personnel command also has guaranteed that all military assignments, re-enlistment contracts and military school dates will be honored, officials said.

In addition, the Army is working to help families of soldiers who were extended. The Armyâ?Ts assistant chief of staff for installation management has begun working with installations to ensure families who relocated in anticipation of a servicemember redeploying and them going immediately to the next duty station will be able to stay where they are until the deployment is over, officials said.

The Community and Family Support Center is supplementing Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Army Community Services with additional soldier and family life consultants, and the Office of the Surgeon General is prepared to deploy more behavioral health personnel to Alaska if needed, officials said.

The Installation Management Agency and the Defense Departmentâ?Ts comptroller office also are engaged with the Army to identify needs and monitor the situation, officials said.

The Defense Department announced the unitâ?Ts extension July 27. The extension was based on a recommendation from Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq.