Transition Team spouses form group to keep in touch
December 1, 2008
By Dena O'Dell
FORT RILEY, Kan. - As the spouse of a deployed military transition team Soldier, Trista Gleason of Junction City knew how difficult it was to connect with other spouses in the same situation.
Unlike a regular Family Readiness Group, 1st Brigade military transition team Families come from one of the Army's largest rear detachments and encompass much of the globe, with Families living in all 50 states and 19 countries. Additionally, Soldiers selected for the teams are from three different branches of service including the Army, Navy and Air Force, so many of the Families choose to stay at their home stations or with other Family members while their spouses are deployed.
When Trista's husband, Capt. Joel Gleason, first deployed, she stayed with her parents in Florida for the first four months and then decided she needed to do something to help other spouses. So she chose to make the move to Fort Riley with the couple's children to wait out her husband's return from Iraq.
"I came to Fort Riley instead of staying in Florida with my parents specifically because I wanted to meet other spouses and support them in a deployment," she said. "It's been great to actually do that - to feel like my husband is serving overseas and I'm able to serve here."
At a meeting with 1st Bde.'s rear detachment this past summer, Trista and a few other spouses approached the rear detachment command about getting a social group organized for spouses.
"There wasn't really any face-to-face contact. What we were really missing was seeing another spouse, going out to dinner and that sort of thing," Trista said.
The rear detachment was able to provide the women with a list of other spouses of transition team Soldiers, which helped get the ball rolling.
"So that was where is started, sort of a spouse-initiated group," she said.
Since July, the MiTTN Social Group has been meeting once a month - hosting dinners at each other's homes, going to the zoo and having dessert night, with plans in the works to visit the Junction City Opera House. The group currently has 15 spouses, but is growing in numbers, Trista said.
"I just got a call from a lady yesterday who said, 'I got a flyer in the mail from you, and this is the first I've heard about this. My husband has been gone for eight months, and I am just so happy that you're here,'" she said. "So hopefully, we'll make a difference for her for the last four months."
The biggest challenge faced by Families of transition teams has been staggered deployments, Trista said.
"Our husbands are all in different classes, so there was no way we would ever meet or know each other," she said. "I found other spouses because of this. (Before this), I didn't know anyone else whose husband was on a MiTT team."
While Trista's husband is now home from his deployment, he will remain with 1st Brigade and Trista said she plans to stay involved with the group.
"I think a lot of spouses have remained in their support networks. But for the spouses that had to be transplanted from what they knew before their husband deployed, I thinks it's pretty important for them to talk with someone who understands," she said. "As long as there is someone who needs a friend to talk to, I plan to remain involved."
Anyone whose spouse is preparing to go on a transition team mission or has a spouse currently deployed on a transition team and would like to join the MiTTN Social Group may contact 1st Brigade's rear detachment or Trista by calling 785-209-4454 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.