FORT BENNING, Ga. - Close to 200 female faces from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division turned toward the podium as Capt. Joan Hollein, commander of Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, introduced the first speaker.

Michelle Fonseca from Fort Benning's Family Advocacy Program was the first speaker at the 3rd HBCT's first ever Female Soldier Deployment Readiness Luncheon Aug. 19 at the Fort Benning, Ga. Community Club. Her topics of discussion were sexual assault, rape, reputation protection, and the importance of the battle buddy system.

Three other speakers followed Fonseca providing information to the female Soldiers on issues such as field hygiene, female medical issues, money, family readiness options, child development, and relationships with children; all issues female Soldiers could face during the brigade's upcoming deployment.

"We're starting to realize that it's important to address these issues before the deployment," said Hollein, who deployed with the 3rd HBCT during the unit's 2007-2008 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Private Alexandria Allen from the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion saw the luncheon as a good opportunity for the women of the brigade to bond and for younger Soldiers to get to know their mentors.

"I see them around Kelley Hill all the time," she said. "I feel comfortable approaching them and asking questions."

To conclude the luncheon, 3rd HBCT Commander Col. Peter Jones provided Soldiers with the opportunity to ask questions pertaining to the deployment.

Jones had recently returned from Iraq after a conducting a two-week predeployment site survey of the area where the brigade will deploy. He was able to provide first-hand answers to questions about living conditions, amenities, area security, deployment timelines, and stop loss. The 3rd HBCT is scheduled for deployment to Iraq in October.

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