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Fairchild Airmen reunite with family after deployment

Capt. Brendan Voitik embraces his wife, Amy, after disembarking a KC-135 Stratotanker April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Captain Voitik returned with 44 other Airmen after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Capt. Brendan Voitik embraces his wife, Amy, after disembarking a KC-135 Stratotanker April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Captain Voitik returned with 44 other Airmen after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Staff Sgt. Michael Overman tickles his 2-year-old daughter, Miquela, after disembarking a KC-135 Stratotanker April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Sergeant Overman returned with 44 other Airmen after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Staff Sgt. Michael Overman tickles his 2-year-old daughter, Miquela, after disembarking a KC-135 Stratotanker April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Sergeant Overman returned with 44 other Airmen after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Kole and Kade Turner stick close to their dad, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Turner, after going months without seeing him April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Sergeant Turner returned with 44 other Airmen after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Kole and Kade Turner stick close to their dad, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Turner, after going months without seeing him April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Sergeant Turner returned with 44 other Airmen after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Jasmine Hernandez receives a big hug from her father, Tech. Sgt. Juan Hernandez, just minutes after his return April 30 to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Sergeant Hernandez returned with 44 other Airmen from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Jasmine Hernandez receives a big hug from her father, Tech. Sgt. Juan Hernandez, just minutes after his return April 30 to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Sergeant Hernandez returned with 44 other Airmen from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Family, friends and media wait for 44 Airmen to disembark a KC-135 Stratotanker April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The Airmen returned after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

Family, friends and media wait for 44 Airmen to disembark a KC-135 Stratotanker April 30 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The Airmen returned after their deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jocelyn Ford)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNEWS) -- Applause, cheers, hugs and tears of joy awaited 44 returning warriors as they walked off of a KC-135 Stratotanker to be greeted by a crowd of more than 100 military family members, fellow Airmen and local media crews here April 30.

After the welcome on the ramp next to the plane, the families and returning Airmen were driven to the Airmen's Center of Excellence for inprocessing. 

"Taking the extra time to ensure that first meeting is not filled with distraction or added stress is very important," said Lt. Col. Michael Gaal, 92nd Operations Support Squadron commander. "Deploying and redeploying is an experience you will remember all of your life. Fairchild has a robust reintegration process through our Expeditionary Airmen's Center of Excellence."

The Expeditionary Airmen's Center of Excellence is a one-stop-shop focused on meeting the redeployer's inprocessing needs all in the same facility, he said.

While the Airmen received briefings and a personal thank you from Col. Roger Watkins, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing's vice commander, families waited until the Airmen finished processing back into their organizations. The Airmen and their families then received a few additional briefings together about what to expect during the reunion phase and tips on how to help make the process a little smoother.

"Briefings and discussions are provided to the redeployers prior to heading home and immediately upon their return," Colonel Gaal said. "I personally found the literature handed out at the Center of Excellence to be very beneficial to understand the needs and expectations of the family I left behind when I deployed."

After Airmen finished the briefings and required checklists, they were released to start their compensatory time off of work.

"This time period is designed to allow the member to readjust their body's clock from the time zone crossings, and a chance to assume their normal roles in their families," Colonel Gaal said. 

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