Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division prepare for deployments by taking classes and spending time building readiness in the field. However, if "Big Red One" Soldiers fail to prepare the home front, the war front can be an even more treacherous place.
Kristen Wellock, wife of Maj. Michael Wellock, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., operations officer, said she and her husband try to stay prepared at all times for any deployment or shorter temporary duty assignments.
"We have a money checklist, a family checklist, a scary checklist and then the fun stuff," Kristen said. "With this lifestyle, things are going to change all the time. Yes, he was on a 9-month deployment to Korea, but who knows? If something happened, that could have turned into a 15-month combat deployment."
The Wellocks' checklists include who will pay the bills and how, a support system, powers of attorney, updated wills and insurance information. They have learned from experience -- their own and others -- how important it is to be ready and prepared at all times.
During the Wellocks' first deployment in 2010, the couple took a joint plan of attack to pay bills, but it didn't work for them.
"I had to be the one who physically had to write the checks and pay stuff," Kristen said. "Then, he would view the statements and ask if I paid certain bills, and we started bickering about it. We made the decision that I would manage the finances from home because his was job was just too serious to have to worry about that stuff."
FINDING A SUPPORT SYSTEM
The Wellocks' usually prefer to live on post. Kristen feels comfortable with having other military families as a large part of her support system.
"When we got here, we didn't know anybody, but the lady across the street came over and introduced herself," Kristen said. "We got a new neighbor and now I am the emergency contact for her. You need to find that person. We like to have two or three, just in case."
The system isn't just for her -- she supports other families in their times of need.
"The daughter of a friend of ours had to have her daughter flown to Kansas City for a medical emergency," Kristen said. "That really tested our core group, but we handled it. It felt good that we could support her. I knew our support system could do anything."
Some families prefer to stay at their current home station while their spouse is deployed; others choose to move to be closer to family members for their support system.
Capt. Joshua Sanchez, 1st Infantry Division deputy electronic warfare officer, said his wife moved back to California to be near their parents when he deployed to Kuwait in 2013. It gave him a sense of comfort knowing both sets of parents were there to help his wife and his two young children.
"It made it a lot easier knowing I didn't have to worry about her staying by herself," Sanchez said. "It was great because my family was back there helping her out along with her family. I was able to focus on work, and when I was done and if I had a chance to give them a call, I did that."
The Wellocks and Sanchezes were physically together before their deployments, but Emily Mussmann, wife of Capt. Tom Mussmann, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., commander, was finishing her nursing degree in Ohio when the captain deployed to South Korea in September 2016.
Emily had her family and other students to function as her support system, but she felt isolated living so far away and not on a military post.
After finishing her degree, she moved to the Flint Hills Region and noticed how much more support and how many more services were available to her as she was now an active member of the military community.
"There were a lot more resources to tap into here (Fort Riley)," Emily said. "Ladies wanted to have me over to do things. There were a lot more resources I could find out about, or search out like education help or financial help."
The extent and amount of resources do change and are connected to what type of deployment a Soldier is on. If a Soldier and their spouse have a child/children and they plan to stay in the local area, they can contact the Child and Youth Services Parent Central Office at (785) 239-9885 to see what programs the family qualifies for, according to Cheryl Greathouse, Child and Youth Services programs operations specialist.
Military families can contact the Staff Judge Advocate at (785) 239-3117 or go in person to 216 Custer Ave. on Main Post for legal assistance. Services offered by SJA to deploying Soldiers include special and general powers of attorney, wills and rental lease termination.