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56th Stryker Brigade to return home

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade will begin heading home this week. About 200 soldiers serving as an advance team are expected to arrive at Fort Dix to prepare for the return of the 4,000-member brigade. The soldiers went to Iraq last January as part of the state Guard’s largest deployment to the Iraq War.

Caption: Sgt. Michael Raley of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade waits outside Iraqi Army barracks just before dawn.


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Officials with the Pennsylvania National Guard say they suffered fewer casualties than expected. So far two members have been killed and 24 wounded.

More soldiers will begin arriving at Fort Dix later this month in groups of 100, where they will spend about a week before heading home to their families.

Chaplain Gary Taylor served as the rear guard chaplain for the brigade while it was deployed. He says returning Guard soldiers will have some challenges adjusting to civilian life.

Taylor: We always teach them when they come back, there is no more normal. What was normal before they left will not be normal in any case, in just about every case.

Taylor says soldiers are returning to a worsened economy, where their civilian jobs may not be secure. The entire brigade is expected to be back in by the beginning of October.

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