RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Some families are whole after some National Guard soldiers were able to return home. More than 30 soldiers reunited with their families at the Rio Rancho Readiness Center Tuesday afternoon.

They served in the New Mexico Army National Guard and just finished a nine-month deployment in the Middle East. They were there as part of Operation Spartan Shield, which helped train locals to be self-reliant.

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One soldier says he’s happy to be home. “It’s been a long journey home,” says Robert Chavez of the Army National Guard. “[It] felt like it was going to take forever to get here. Obviously, it’s one of those things that take some getting used to. We’ve been in a certain type of tempo that we’re not normally used to at home. Definitely with the kids here, like I said, it’s bittersweet.”

The soldiers aren’t relieved of duty just yet, but they do have a little time off before returning to base for debriefing.