SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - More than 600 Soldiers and family members became better prepared for their upcoming deployment at a predeployment briefing and exposition, Oct. 17, at the Nehelani.

Members of the 84th Engineer Battalion enjoyed displays from 20 different organizations and short briefings from select agencies.

Predeployment briefings that involve families show the Army's commitment to Soldiers and their families.

"The Army is so serious about making sure families are supported that leadership has hired a full-time staff member just to support you and your families," said Lt. Col. Nick Katers, commander, 84th Eng. Bn., as he pointed out the battalion's new family readiness support assistant (FRSA), Shannan Kalili.

The predeployment expo is a tool for commanders to get their Soldiers and families ready for deployment, according to Mel Kinoshita, deployment specialist, Army Community Service (ACS).

"This is a great opportunity to ask questions directly to the service providers," he added.

At an exposition like this people are exposed to all the services on post at one time," said Capt. Jeremy Tilley, assistant operations officer, 84th Eng. Bn. "The focus is on families because right now it's beginning to sink in that one member of the family is going to be gone for a year. Knowing there are services on post makes it easier for the family."

The ACS-sponsored event also featured several speakers who clarified various issues.

"I always say, if you have a question, come to ACS because nine times out of 10, we do it or know who does," said Jane Bruns, Exceptional Family Member Program manager and featured ACS speaker. "ACS is here to better prepare Soldiers and families for deployment. This is not only for the Soldiers, but especially for the family members left behind."

Some of the programs and services offered by ACS include family advocacy, financial readiness, volunteer opportunities, mobilization and deployment assistance, relocation assistance, VTC, computer lab, Army family team-building, and military family life consultants.

A representative from the 125th Financial Management Company shared advice on getting bills paid and keeping the books balanced.

"With your spouse at home paying the bills, you know you can't just go to the ATM and pull out money without checking to see that there's money in your account," said Tamatha Perkins, 125th Financial Management Co. She also discussed using the MyPay Web site and the Eagle Cash card.

Another important item stressed to those in attendance was making sure all legal issues are up-to-date before deploy-ing. The staff judge advocate officer suggested updating wills and powers of attorney.

"Events like this give spouses a resource and a little of what to expect when their Soldiers are gone," said Doris Taitague, family member. "I like that the different agencies are here; normally people can't take the time to visit all the offices and services that are available."

"It's important to get the information out," said Shannan Kalili, 84th Eng. Bn. FRSA.
"A lot of people just don't know about things such as free child care. This allows spouses to get out while husbands are deployed."

"I want the individual Soldiers and the families to be empowered with as many answers as we can get them," said Katers. "This type of event minimizes issues. For every spouse that's here, that means 10 less questions the rear detachment will have to answer."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16