Local soldiers deploy to Kuwait on mental health mission

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Hoosiers offered a thank you and farewell Saturday for a group of local soldiers heading to Kuwait.

The 55th Medical Detachment Combat Operational Stress Control is stationed in Lawrence, Ind. This weekend, some of those soldiers will start their assignment supporting Operation: Enduring Freedom.

First Lieutenant Tyra Oliver is a clinical social worker from Chicago, now leading the 55th Combat Operational Stress Control. The job aligns perfectly with the work she does every day.

"Just like when we go to the doctor, physically you want to make sure everything is okay. Emotionally too, it's very important so that we can continue to do the job," Oliver said.

PHOTO: The 55th Medical Detachment Combat Operational Stress Control stationed in Lawrence preparing to deploy to Kuwait Saturday

The group has a unique but essential task that is often overlooked. They will be taking care of soldier stress, mental health and one another.

"There are a lot of operational stresses that go on in-theater, and so we want to make sure that we have the good support for them so that they can continue their mission," Oliver said.

Ryan Christy, 17, recently took his oath for the US Army Reserves.

"I feel great representing Indiana," Christy said.

PHOTO: New reservist 17-year-old Ryan Christy looking on at the team he plans to join after completing basic training next summer

With a year left of high school, Ryan won't start basic training until next summer. He chose the unit for the work they do helping soldiers in body and mind.

"A lot of people don't think of that as a military job, but it is definitely important for people that come back with PTSD, so that way they have some kind of diagnosis, some kind of support," Christy said.

On Saturday, Christy and his parents came to send off and support his fellow soldiers deploying on a mission that is a part of his future, too.

"That's what makes me happy with Ryan. That he would be doing something that shows such compassion," said Christy's mom, Lisa Christy.

The group will first go to a base in Texas before deploying to Kuwait. The full deployment is expected to last 400 days.