JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - Countless Iraq war veterans are already back home in East Texas, giving a first hand perspective on the war. Chaplain Pat Maae is re-adjusting to life as a civilian.
"Regardless of what plays out in the Army's timeline and the political timeline, soldiers still face stress," said Maae. "They still face personal battles."
Maae says soldiers were his top priority. "They've seen more than I have, and they've been under pressures I couldn't begin to describe," he said.
Maae came home from streets of Iraq, this month. For eight months before that, he worked with soldiers and witnessed the waning days of the war. "The soldiers were adapting each day and that was a challenge each day, and they did a fantastic job of meeting the deadlines...and meeting the new jobs that maybe they weren't expecting when they went over there."
Maae says despite those stresses "we'll always wonder in the back of your mind if you did enough."
"I think we've got some fantastic soldiers that are coming back," he said. "[They] did their job with a great amount of integrity."
Progress in Iraq has been made. "It's such an area rich with history, not only world history, but spiritual history," he said. "The potential of adding to the world community...and knowledge and history is something that I'm looking forward to over the next 15 or 20 years."
Today, Maae walks the hallways of the Baptist Seminary in Jacksonville, trading combat for coursework. He is working on his Master's in divinity. He says the war may be over, but the real work is just beginning.
"There's always battles going on...Part of my job as chaplain is understanding...Just because the firing may stop, the personal battles of broken marriages and stress still go on," he said. "My job was to remind them as change comes down, there's always hope and there's always help."
There is help even on the homefront.
Chaplain Maae lives in Whitehouse with his family. He says his brigade, was fortunate enough to avoid any casualties during his tour.