USO Deployed Family Fun Day provides relaxation, information for Families
May 11, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 10) -- Families enjoyed hot dogs, chips, moon bounces, tricycle riding, face painting and a performance by the Navy's drill team on Saturday during Deployed Family Fun Day sponsored by the Fort Belvoir branch of the USO.
In addition to the entertainment, representatives from Army Community Service offices at Fort Belvoir and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall were at the event to promote their services for Families of deployed Soldiers or Soldiers returning from deployment.
Making sure Families have all the information they need to prepare for a deployment or return from one was the main goal for the event.
"People (received) a lot of good information at the information tables, which is what this event is all about," said Lauren Friedman, USO program specialist. "We want the deployed Families to have all the information they can use while their loved one is deployed, or has come back."
Many of the Families that came to the event, from Fort Belvoir and the Military District of Washington, came specifically to get information on ACS deployment services.
Lt. Heath Floray, Office of Naval Intelligence, Intelligence Officer, who is deploying to Iraq for a year said his wife, Andie, got information on deployed spouses groups as well as survivor outreach services at Belvoir.
"It does make me feel better because at my current command we don't have a spouses group," Floray said of learning about the spouses groups. "Now, that we have found the deployed spouses group, I feel better because she has other spouses she can talk to (while I'm gone)."
He also enjoyed having a chance to spend time with his Family before leaving.
"We did balloon animals, the obstacle course, the bounce house," said Floray. "So, it's just a fun day to spend with my Family."
Maj. Paul Fredin, Headquarters, Air Force, a program manager at the Pentagon, is deploying to the Gulf area in July. Though this is his fourth deployment, he said he and his wife always check what new services ACS is offering.
"I just wanted to get my Family connected to some services before I leave," Fredin said. "For me (deployment) is easy. They wash our clothes and we do our jobs. For her, it's stress 24/7 with our children."
Knowing his wife will have activities to keep her busy while he's gone is a relief for Fredin, because the activities provide an outlet.
"We have three kids, so it's huge for her to have activities to do," said Fredin. "It allows her to keep her sanity with the kids while I'm gone."
Other Families came for the sheer enjoyment of spending a day with their children or grandchildren.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class David St. Pierre, brought his grandchildren to the event on Saturday. He said the event is a great way for Families to spend time together, but also for them to learn about what services are available to them.
"There are a lot of programs within the USO and through ACS that Families aren't aware of," St. Pierre said. "This gives the children a chance to play, but also for the Families to find out what resources are available."
St. Pierre deployed twice during his military career, once during Operation Desert Storm and once to Somalia. He said the services offered to Families during deployment are much better now then they were 20 years ago.
"I think the amount of resources is tenfold more, now, than when I deployed," said St. Pierre. "There are more family needs now than there were back then."
Whether they came for fun, because they needed information or both, the USO was just happy to be able to provide a fun and resourceful day for the Families.
"The great thing about this event is it is the first of its kind to be specific to deployed Families," said Friedman. "There wasn't one before, which is why we created one. I think this has become a staple for deployed Families to get their information."