26 MEU goes to class: 26 MEU focuses on safety of Marines, sailors heading home

17 Mar 2009 | Cpl. Jason D. Mills 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

As the end of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's deployment edges closer and closer, the thing on most peoples’ minds aboard the USS Iwo Jima is the first thing they will do when they get home.

The last thing most service members worry about is the difficulty they will face reintegrating into to their old lifestyles.

However, that is one of the main concerns of MEU leadership.

"We are basically trying to prevent some of the mishaps that have been happening within the Marine Corps," said Eddie Smith, the MEU's tactical safety officer.  "The Marine Corps has recognized that when Marines do return back from (deployment) there's a need for some type of intervention to slowly integrate them back into our normal society."

Every rank, from private to colonel, must attend the five to seven mandatory one-hour classes before they go on leave, he explained.

The classes help reintroduce the Marines to things as simple as driving, being with family and riding motorcycles, Smith explained.

"We'll talk about driving," he said. "Driving in the United States, even though some people think it's a simple thing, when you haven't done that in a while you tend to lose some of your senses, some of the things that you're normally aware of, you tend to lose them, the minor things such as another vehicle running a red light."

The classes do more than just reiterate basic driving skills, each class focuses on a different aspect of reintegrating the Marines and sailors back into life in the United States.

"We're coming back with a slow approach trying to bring those Marines back to normal society," Smith said.

The 26th MEU deployed in August of last year and is currently on the last leg of its 2008-2009 deployment.
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)