“When I went through my first deployment – that was Dessert Storm – we didn’t have Family support groups, we didn’t have Family readiness groups, we didn’t have anything,” said Tricia Verschage, Fort Riley leader, Her War, Her Voice. “We were out flapping in the wind – lost, clueless and alone.”
A lot of improvements have been made through the years to help with the reintegration process between military Families and their Soldiers, Verschage said.
To help ease the transition between Soldiers and their Families, Army Community Service hosted a Beyond the Beans and Bullets seminar Jan. 12 at Riley’s Conference Center.
“This is our redeployment and reintegration seminar, preparing our spouses for that moment when our Soldier comes home,” Verschage said.
The purpose of the event is to help Families realize some of the resources that are available to them and to provide them with the opportunity to network with others that are going through the same experiences, said Sally Sowell, outreach branch manager, ACS.
“Not all spouses and Family members have immediate Family around,” Sowell said.
“The Army does a really good job of networking and pulling those Families together because we are one big Family.”
Three sessions were conducted throughout the seminar, including tips and tools for managing redeployment; staying relaxed; and budgeting for redeployment.
Redeployment workshops also were available for children, ages 6 to 17 years.
Representatives from Kansas State University; ACS; Military Family Life consultants; and Her War, Her Voice support group participated in the seminar to show support for military Families.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Crystal Stevens, military spouse, Friendship, N.Y.
Stevens and her husband have known each other since they were 13 years old. The Family is experiencing its first deployment.
“I have two little girls, and we’ve only been married for four years now,” Stevens said. “I’ve learned a lot – a lot about what to expect, what’s normal.”
The past nine months have proved to be challenging, she said, but the Family has been surprisingly resilient.
“The separation has been really difficult, but I think it’s been so good for us because it’s allowed me to grow as a person and experience those struggles and challenges and overcome them, and there’s a sense of empowerment there,” Stevens said.
“I think, also, with my husband, he knows that we’re going to be OK no matter what, and I think there’s a sense of relief for him, too.”
Resources like the New Parent Support Group, provided by the Family Advocacy Program, has been an outlet Stevens said she has used to help her through the deployment as a single mom.
No spouse should ever go through a deployment by themselves, Verschage said.
“That’s been one of my driving goals over the last 22 years of our marriage. I don’t want any spouse to ever, ever feel like they’re alone because they’re not,” Verschage said.
By Calun Reece
1st Inf. Div. Post
Earl Robinson, program specialist, FAP, right, talks to military Family members about how to decrease stress during a stress-sleep workshop Jan. 12 at Riley’s Conference Center.
Calun Reece | POST
Military Family members try their hand at Bal-a-vis-x during a stress-sleep workshop Jan. 12 at Riley’s Conference Center.
Calun Reece | POST