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Soldiers, civilians sling paint to relieve stress

Then-Capt. Thad Solhjen, Captains Career Course, takes aim to bring down an opposing team member during a game of paintball in 2012. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Then-Capt. Thad Solhjen, Captains Career Course, takes aim to bring down an opposing team member during a game of paintball in 2012. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: June 5, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 5, 2014) -- Adrenaline junkies are often searching for the next thing to get their rush, and Fort Rucker is offering one way for Soldiers and civilians to get their fill using strategy and tactics.

Paintball is offered on the installation at outdoor recreation in conjunction with Dothan Survival Games, and is available to the general public, said Brian Jackson, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation program manager.

“Paintball is just one of the great activities provided by DFMWR,” he said. “It’s recreational, but it also helps tie into the team cohesiveness component that Soldiers are accustomed to. Although [participants] are using paintball guns to fire at one another, the activity creates a competitive environment on the leisurely side.”

There are three different courses available on Fort Rucker, all located near Lake Tholocco and each with their own character, said Jackson.

“The speedball course is a flat-land area with wooden barriers that are mirrored on both sides,” he said. “Games end rather quickly on this course, but make for an exciting and high-adrenaline experience.”

The other two courses are woodland courses, one big and one small.

“Both woodland courses give you a genuine feel of a fraction of being down range when it comes to strategy and down-range tactics used by military units,” said the program manager. “I have learned numerous tactics through paintballing with Soldiers, and it’s truly impressive to see the camaraderie and skill set used by our service members.”

The price of paintball depends on the size of the group and rental equipment needed and the fields are only available by reservation. A minimum of eight people is needed to utilize the courses on Fort Rucker. For more information or to make reservations, call 763-8202.

Paintball equipment, including masks and guns are included in the price the group pays, but the paint must be purchased.

Paintball isn’t used only for recreation, however. It’s also used in the Installation Management Command Warrior Adventure Quest program, which is designed to recondition Soldiers who are returning from deployment, said Lance Oliver, ODR maintenance and WAQ facilitator.

WAQ is important for Soldiers who have been deployed because it allows them to reclaim what is considered a normal mental state, added John Clancy, outdoor recreation program manager, adding that retention reset is the goal of the program.

“They get that rush every day over there and when they get back they seek that high again, often in very dangerous ways,” he said. “When they are all pumped up and don’t know how to get that out of their system, it can lead to injuries and even death, often caused by POV (privately owned vehicle) accidents. So, to help prevent that, this program and others like it were developed.”

The funding from IMCOM enables Soldiers to participate in activities like this without any cost to them.

“It is a chance for them to find a free, reachable norm without them going off post alone and being reckless or getting into trouble,” said Jackson. “WAQ activities provide a transition from overseas to being back in the states.”

Fort Rucker is unique with IMCOM’s requirement that Soldiers who participate must have been downrange in the past 120 days because it is a non-deploying base.

“IMCOM has given us permission to work with Soldiers outside the 120-day window. It takes a much longer time for us to contact Soldiers who maybe have been back a year and didn’t know about our program here at Fort Rucker. It’s out there for any leader, commander or sergeant major if they want to get some of their [Soldiers] involved. Just contact us,” said Clancy.

Oftentimes Soldiers go into the program looking for “the catch,” but Clancy is determined to prove that the program is strictly about improving Soldier’s mental states.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/127457/

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