By Staff Sgt. Jennifer BunnJanuary 22, 2015
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- One thing Soldiers and their families know is that they need to be prepared for all the contingencies that are thrown their way in the course of their military careers. Permanent changes of station, extended training exercises and deployment missions are intermingled among family vacations, celebrations and a child's sports game or dance recital.
To help alleviate the pressures and stressors that occur when a Family must balance normal day-to-day life activities with military missions, 2nd Brigade Combat Team conducted a Deployment Fair on Jan. 13 at Fort Drum's Monti Physical Fitness Center. The event is a precursor to the brigade's upcoming rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center, La., and possible future missions.
The 2nd BCT Family Readiness Group organized the event, bringing together 28 Fort Drum community agencies under one roof. Each organization set up a table with pamphlets, flyers and props for the attendees. Knowledgeable representatives answered questions and offered tidbits of information one might not get from a flyer or social media site.
Sarah Jackson, FRG leader for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, strolled from table to table gathering items that she thought would be of interest to the Families in her company. Of course, her hands were full. She also was thrilled to be able to talk to the people who provide the services.
"It's nice to have face-to-face contact with people -- to know there is someone on the other side of the (social media) page. You get to meet some of the people who work for these agencies," she commented.
The event was open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. so it could be accessible to as many people as possible and for Soldiers who wanted accompany their spouse.
Staff Sgt. Bruce Hillway, D Company, 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion, attended the event with his wife, Melinda. Although he has several deployments under his belt, his wife has yet to experience the long separations that come with his job as a geospatial intelligence imagery analyst. It is important to him that she knows the agencies are here for her and their daughter to use.
"We were married after my last deployment, so she's never been through a deployment before, and I know there are a lot of resources available that are really good for (spouses of deployed Soldiers)," Hillway said. "But they will not do her any good if she doesn't know about them."
Participating agencies ranged from the Family Advocacy Program, Exceptional Family Member Program and Army Wellness Center to organizers of the USO, Outdoor Recreation and Child, Youth and School Services.
All services are provided for the Soldiers as well as their Family Members.
Shanon Fernandez, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Reyes Fernandez, who is assigned to C Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, took advantage of the event to get a refresher on what is available to her and to make sure she had all the up-to-date information she needed for a smoother separation.
"I like to keep up with the information for when my husband (is away)," Fernandez explained. "If I am prepared for all of them (my Family) and myself, then I feel a whole lot better. A lot less stress on him and a lot less stress on me too."
To further the circulation of pertinent information to the whole Commando Family, 2nd BCT held several deployment briefings for Families, including a Commando Kids Town Hall geared toward the concerns of children within the brigade. If anyone was unable to attend these events, FRG leaders are available to assist.