Over the last few weeks, more than 2,000 troopers with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment “Brave Rifles” returned from their nine-month deployment to Iraq.

While there, the troopers endured often very austere living conditions while they conducted missions such as blowing the snot out of the Islamic State with their artillery and teaching the Iraqis and Kurds to work together as a team.

Needless to say, the Brave Rifles command team was very happy with the professionalism and lethality of their soldiers.

Also, the more than 3,000 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division soldiers who deployed to Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve have begun to return home from their nine-month rotation. The “Ironhorse” soldiers have spent the last nine months training and conducting exercises with our eastern European NATO allies.

With the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade home from their respective deployments as well, for a short period of time Fort Hood will have the largest number of troops actually home in a few years.

Granted, it won’t last long as the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team will most likely see orders somewhere in the world soon, as it has just completed a training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team is getting ready for a rotation at NTC, so it will probably be in the same boat soon as well.

But until then, it will be nice to have so many of our soldiers back home, for many reasons.

The biggest reason is morale, of course. While soldiers deploy because that’s what we do, being home with the family and having the opportunity to do little things like eating at a choice of restaurants or go shopping without the worry of an improvised explosive device going off are truly a joy.

With all the soldiers home, the families who left the Fort Hood area to enjoy extended-family support while their soldier was gone are back here as well. Which means that’s good for the local economy.

More people are here shopping at local stores. More people eating at local restaurants. More people renting homes and apartments, paying for electricity and utilities.

As it is, Fort Hood provides roughly $24.5 billion to the Texas economy annually, about 25 percent of what every military installation in the state provides combined. Imagine how much that goes up when we don’t have 30 to 40 percent of our soldiers deployed.

Lastly, it’s just nice having them home. Since I no longer put on the uniform daily, I enjoy running into soldiers still serving and chatting with them about their experiences.

To all who have returned, welcome home.

David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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