LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Soldiers with Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are working through their deployment in the Middle East.
Being away from home, family, and even American culture can be stressful, but there is a particular unit that helps them deal with the rigors and uncertainty of it all. News 10’s Tracy Wirtz talked to a member of that team about their role, and it’s not his first time doing it.
Louisiana soldiers have been in the Middle East for six months. Most of them are deployed for the first time. Thankfully, a small group provides necessary support as they experience something most of us can only imagine.
“My responsibility with the Guard is religious affairs specialist,” said SSgt. Gerald Falgout. “I work with a chaplain to coordinate religious support for our soldiers and their mental health and well-being.”
Falgout is an 18-year veteran of the Louisiana National Guard, providing counseling, whether it’s spiritual or emotional. He is in the middle of his third deployment. When he was in Iraq in 2004-05, his team opened the first new chapel on base. They opened a second one this year.
“It has been such a blessing just to have the building,” said Falgout. “To be able to provide these basic services for soldiers and our coalition partners is fabulous for us.”
Falgout says the services they provide are critical, especially to soldier deployed for the first time.
“Having never done this before is the biggest thing that we say and we deal with is the anxiety of being separated from their loved ones, whether it’s their parents or wife and children or whatever,” he said.
He understands that anxiety, being separated from his own family while he serves.
“Also, having the support from my wife, who like most others, she’s taking the role of full-time mom and full-time dad to my little boy,” said Falgout. “I would like to tell my family that, yeah, I’m doing fine. I know my mom worries all the time, no matter what.”
In addition to being a safe space for soldiers, Falgout says they show movies and play games, allowing them to unwind and relax.