FORT GORDON, GA. - During the Christmas holiday season, most families are busy buying gifts, completing last minute preparations for family gatherings or planning trips out of town to visit relatives.

This holiday season, soldiers and families of the 67th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), 35th Signal Brigade, are busy cherishing their last few days together and making last minute preparations for their upcoming deployment.

For the past few weeks soldiers in the battalion have been on block leave to spend quality time with their families and mentally prepare for their mission. The time off gives soldiers a chance to relax and celebrate the holidays with their families.

"Block leave presented a few challenges for the company. We did our block leave in rotations, and this was a learning experience. It allowed us to plan out how we will rotate teams and shifts during deployment," explained 1st Sgt. Todd R. Daniel, of C Co., ESB.

For the soldiers who have deployed, this is just another deployment, but for some of the soldiers this is something they have never experienced. Training has prepared these Soldiers for their duties, but they often wonder what to expect on a day-to-day basis.

Daniel said most of the soldiers that haven't deployed worry about the conditions where they will stay, and if there is a chance their planned nine month deployment could get extended.

"I am not worried about the deployment," said Sgt. Thomas E. Powers, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "I have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be my third deployment, so I know what to expect."

Powers stated that he received a lot of support from his family during past deployments. Both his parents are prior military and understand the demands of his job. His wife, Michelle, keeps him up-to-date with the milestones his three young children make in his absence. His sister, Glenna, and her children Skype with him as often as possible, so he can keep up with their achievements. All of his family plans to send lots of pictures, letters and care packages.

"I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the most valuable player of our team- our family members. Deployments are as much a hardship on the family members as it is on our Soldiers. We acknowledge that they are our rocks, our resilient partners that enable us to accomplish the mission as ambassadors of this great nation-the United States of America. During our absence, we thank our families in advance for their sacrifices and steadfast support," said Lt. Col. Calondra L. Fortson, 67th ESB battalion commander.

Some familiar questions many spouses have often asked are "how to support their Soldiers and make the time go by faster?" The answers to most questions can be found through their military resources. The 67th ESB Family Readiness Group can be contacted through David Fortson at The Army Community Service is the heart of every military installation and hosts a wide variety of support and volunteer services for families and can be reached at 791-3579.

Page last updated Fri December 21st, 2012 at 12:57