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Soldier struggles with coming home after war

11/5/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

The following story may be used as a sidebar to UMNS #527 and #528. Photos are available.

A UMNS Feature By Kathy L. Gilbert*

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
United Methodist Chaplain Charles Herring (left) and Cpl. Gary Harvey of the Army's Third Infantry Division share an early morning breakfast at Ft. Stewart, Ga. The two were among more than 15,000 men and women from the division who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. Photo number 03-403, Accompanies UMNS #529, 11/5/03

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Soldiers of the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division do jumping jacks in the predawn darkness at Ft. Stewart, Ga. More than 15,000 men and women from the division served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. Photo number 03-402, Accompanies UMNS #529, 11/5/03
FORT STEWART, Ga.-United Methodist Chaplain Maj. Charles Herring pulls up in front of Victory Chapel on post at Fort Stewart around 5:30 a.m. Inside, chaplain assistant Cpl. Gary Harvey has the coffee started.

They have a little time to talk before Harvey has to report to P/T (physical training) at 6:30 a.m. When he returns Herring has a special treat--sausage croissants from Burger King. Eating the croissants brings back memories of the opening of the Baghdad Airport Burger King.

"You had to wait three and a half to four hours for a Whopper and fries but it was so good," Harvey says, grinning.

Those types of shared memories make it easy for soldiers like Harvey to talk to chaplains like Herring.

"I ate the same sandy food, traveled the same dusty convoys," says Herring. "To have been where they have been gives me a lot of credibility and gives me a wonderful door of opportunity to help them explore deeper issues."

Harvey, 23, is having a hard time adjusting to coming back home after serving in the war in Iraq. His wife Chenoa Cruz-Harvey, 24, is also having a hard time understanding the man who has come back to her.

"I love my husband very much but the war does have its effects," she says. "He is not the same man that went over there."

As a chaplain's assistant, Harvey assists in the religious services performed by the chaplain, but he is also his bodyguard.

"I'm responsible for bringing him (the chaplain) home," Harvey says.

Herring says for a lot of the soldiers at Fort Stewart, this was their first major deployment.

"A big part of counseling is to help them see 'Yes, you are different; yes, you've changed, so celebrate the change and growth in your life'."

Herring is helping Harvey integrate his life in Iraq and his battle experiences to coming back home to his wife and new son.

"Just as he was overwhelmed by battle experiences, now he is overwhelmed with daddy experiences."

Harvey and his wife are new parents. They found out she was pregnant 10 days before he deployed.

The images of war burned into his memory sometimes make it hard for him to talk to his wife.

"Certain times, I realize I'm very different. I'm very cold now emotionally where I used to be a very emotional person. A lot over there just kinda numbs your emotions, numbs your nerves."

Herring had become a friend he can turn to, he says.

"It has been a lot of comfort just to be able to talk to him. He's a soldier's soldier; he knows when it's time to be a soldier and when it's time to be a chaplain. He melds the two roles very well."

The best advice Harvey has gotten from Herring is to concentrate on his family.

"He has told me take care of what really needs to be taken care of and everything else will fall into place."

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