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Returning soldier gives insight into life after deployment in Af - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Returning soldier gives insight into life after deployment in Afghanistan

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FARGO, N.D. -- Valley News Team attended tonight's welcome home festivities for one of the returning North Dakota National Guard soldiers and gained a better insight into life after deployment in Afghanistan.

Family and friends celebrate the return of a soldier, mother and loyal friend. We spoke with Stephanie Collins one of the medical unit soldiers, after she stepped off the plane.

"I'm pretty sure the entire plane understood how excited we are,” said Stephanie Collins. “We are excited.”

Now, on North Dakota soil and back at home base we met up with Collins again.

"Being home for 24 hours, how are you doing?,” asked Valley News Live.

“I think my sleep schedule is still messed up,” Collins responded.

Experiencing a wind-whirl of changes, Collins is re-emerging into civilian life. Even a simple task, can be difficult. Collins told us she had to re-learn how to work the coffee maker the first morning.

We asked how life here compared to overseas.

"I don't know if I necessarily have a comment right now,” said Collins.

Collins said she's adjusting well, but it's been a bigger change for her family. Many soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq deal with similar issues including post traumatic stress. It's important to know there is help.

"One of the programs for veterans specifically is our military outreach,” said Family Program Assistant, Sgt. Derek Hjelseth from the Fargo Military Service Center.

There are also chaplains, social workers, the Yellow Ribbon Program, Military OneSource and veteran service officers which are all available to help soldiers readjust to social norms.

"I would definitely suggest those services to soldiers and service members returning back from war zones where a lot of crazy stuff happens and not everybody understand how your mind works,” said Sgt. Hjelseth.

For now, Collins is just glad to be reunited with family.

"I've been gone for six months, it was really nice to see my husband,” Collins told us.

Collins is putting together care packages this weekend for troop members who are still in Afghanistan. If you'd like to donate call our newsroom for more information at (701)282-0444.
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