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Helping soldiers become citizens again

When we first met Dan Grinstead he was preparing for his first deployment at age 59.  A social worker for 35 years, he used his expertise to counsel soldiers in Afghanistan.  Now, he is back home helping soldiers adjust to civilian life. NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports. 

By Stephanie Himango
NBC News producer

This Veterans Day, as we contemplate the thousands of soldiers and their families who have made profound sacrifices, we should also remember that their service does not end when soldiers come safely home. 

The challenges soldiers face in their attempt to re-acclimate to a non-combat environment can be difficult. Social worker and soldier Capt. Dan Grinstead of the Iowa Army National Guard knows that coming home is a critical phase of the whole deployment process. Grinstead joined the National Guard at 57, with the aim of providing mental health services to soldiers.

"I just couldn't imagine myself sitting down talking with soldiers in anything other than a uniform," Grinstead told NBC News in a 2010 interview.

Since then, Grinstead went through the compulsory rigorous training, and ultimately deployed to Afghanistan at 59, along with 2,800 other soldiers. Now, at age 61, he is back home in Iowa and prepared to help soldiers with their next step.

"You hope you can explain to families what's going on. 'Why am I scanning a room?', 'Why am I driving the way I am?'" he said.  "You have to have those skills to survive in a hostile environment, and the trick is to turn them off when you get home."

As we remember soldiers on Veterans Day, we can also remember that Grinstead is one of many people whose mission now is to help soldiers become citizens again.