BARSTOW Fort Irwin soldiers who have returned from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their spouses now have an opportunity to air concerns and feelings with their peers on topics ranging from post traumatic stress disorder to moving into a new community.

Lt. Col. Kevin M. Leideritz, a chaplain for the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment at the National Training Center, began the first of weekly group discussions called the Warriors' Huddle Jan. 11. The program is available to soldiers in the 11th ACR, others stationed at Fort Irwin and spouses.

Discussions are lead by a chaplain and provides a confidential outlet for soldiers and spouses to talk about their problems and concerns. They are also held during the day to allow soldiers living in Barstow to attend in between work.

"It is not a religious curriculum," Leideritz said, referring to the program. "We just gather togehter to talk about different issues such as difficulty sleeping, perhaps the issue of the day might be difficulty driving. It's a chance for soldiers to share solutions that are working for them."

The Warriors' Huddle will help boost the community's morale, said regiment spokesman Spc. Zachary Gardner. It is also the first formal group discussion program offered by the 11th ACR, he said.

The Warriors' Huddle program is part of an effort by the chaplain's office to increase soldier and community outreach within the 11th ACR. Gardner said in addition to the discussion groups, the chaplain wants to hold more marriage retreats for married soldiers and single retreats for single soldiers.

According to Gus Bahena, public affairs officer for the National Training Center, the garrison's chaplains hosts seminars and retreats for soldiers, but there aren't many programs similar to the Warriors' Huddle involving the chaplain's office.

The Warriors' Huddle sessions for soldiers will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Mondays at Fort Irwin's Education Center at the corner of Third Street and F Avenue.

The session for spouses of soldiers who were previously deployed will be held from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays at Building 320 at Fort Irwin.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com