Beginning today, the Callaway Homecoming Initiative (CHI), a program a year-long in planning between Emory University, Callaway Gardens and Fort Benning’s Maneuver Operations Center for Excellence, becomes a reality.

The CHI is designed to help members of the U.S. Military reconnect with their families and assimilate into a peacetime home environment upon return from combat deployment.  Set in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in west-central Georgia at Callaway Gardens, this program brings soldiers and families together – at no personal expense – in a spectacular and serene setting, far from the stress and anxiety of war.

A series of classes, developed in partnership with Emory University’s School of Medicine Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, features experts from around Georgia, who have volunteered their services.They provide information to soldiers and families about unique aspects of military family life and how to transition from the combat theater.  Military families also participate in a regimen of outdoor team challenge,s including a timed adventure race, a zipline course, a laser tag competition and more. Ample time is built-in for recreational activities as well, including golf, tennis, fishing, bicycling and hiking.  When the day’s activities end, CHI participants unwind in Callaway Gardens’ Southern Pine Cottages, set in a secluded woodland environment and equipped with screened porches, full kitchens and fireplaces.

The program is directed by J. Douglas Bremner, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology, and Director of the Emory Center for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Dr. Bremner also serves as Director of Mental Health Research at the Atlanta VAMC in Decatur, Georgia.

“With all expenses paid and a comprehensive program that addresses all aspects of the combat-to-peacetime transition, CHI is a win-win prospect for everyone – soldier, family and society at large,” said Dr. Bremner.

“Callaway Gardens was created to provide a place of nourishment for the soul, consolation for the heart, and inspiration for the mind,” said Edward Callaway, Callaway Gardens’ chairman of the board.  “What better group of people to engage in this environment so that they can benefit from its beauty at such an important and critical time in their lives to re-connect with themselves, their family and their homeland after providing such an incredible service to our country.”