Tristen Edwards (right) sits with friend Cathy Griffin at the Hearts Apart Hawaiian party July 12. Photo by Tina Vilca.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Army Community Service has teamed with Marine Corps Community Services to create the Family network Hearts Apart. Hearts Apart was created to give military Families a communication circle where they can network, socialize and discuss issues relating to their situations. Being part of a military Family comes with the trials and tribulations of training, deployments and temporarily assigned duty stations.

Rene Fizer, relocation manager for ACS, brought Hearts Apart to JBM-HH from Fort Belvoir, Va., in 2003. Her goal was to create an environment at JBM-HH where Families could connect and communicate their feelings to one another about their loved ones. Discussions among Family members may include comparing notes on children's behavioral changes, taking on the responsibilities of being a single parent and the emotional aspects of being alone during deployment. All conversations among Heart Aparts members are confidential.

"I realized when my husband deployed that no one really understood what I went through as a military spouse," said Fizer. "I wanted an environment where military Families would not feel alone once their husbands left for deployment," she said.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 2008, Tristen Edwards met the love of her life while serving in the Individual Ready Reserve. Tristen and Marine Corps Cpl. Scott Edwards dated two years before their wedding in January 2012.

"For a few years now, we have been doing the long-distance relationship while he is stationed in Jacksonville, N.C.," she said. "Even though I'm married now, I have my career here in Washington, D.C. We decided that it was best that I remain in the National Capital Region so that I may have a good job." The majority of Edwards' Family resides in Hollywood, Fla. Since becoming a couple, Edward's husband has deployed twice. In 2010 the corporal deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit for a period of eight months. While on his first deployment, communications between the Edwards was minimal. During that time, Tristen always kept her telephone within easy reach in case her husband called home. While visiting JBM-HH, Tristen became acquainted with Christianne Witten of the Marine Corps Community Services Family Programs who invited her to join Hearts Apart. While Cpl. Edwards is currently serving in Afghanistan, Tristen attended her first meeting with Hearts Apart.

"Being part of Hearts Apart is a great opportunity to talk with other spouses and parents of Marines who understand the emotional ups and downs," said Edwards. "Being in the D.C. area, there are not that many deployable units, so there isn't some sort of network … like there is on bigger Marine bases."

Hearts Apart is open to all military Families. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month. In one upcoming event members will attend a Twilight Tattoo. For more information, email Rene Fizer at rene.fizer@us.army.mil or Christianne Witten at wittencm@usmc-mccs.org.

Page last updated Fri July 20th, 2012 at 10:16