FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Army Community Service here hosted a deployment readiness fair March 2 that brought together representatives from 20 on-post agencies who provided briefings as well as information about resources available to Soldiers and their Families before, during and after a deployment.
Elements of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell recently deployed to the U.S. Army Europe area of operations in support of Joint Task Force Dragon. Other elements of the division remain in a heightened readiness status but at this time have not received orders to deploy.
“We want to provide our Fort Campbell Soldiers and Families the tools and resources needed to ensure their deployment readiness,” said Laura Mitchell, Mobilization, Deployment and Stability Support Operations specialist, ACS, Fort Campbell Directorate of Human Resources. “Taking care of our Fort Campbell Families helps Soldiers have peace of mind so they can focus on their mission.”
Participating agencies offered information on services from Casualty Assistance to New Parent Support and the ACS Financial Readiness Program. Some 680 Soldiers and Family members walked in throughout the day to visit each booth or attend one of three scheduled briefings.
“I wanted to look for useful tools for myself and my wife in case activation happens,” said Sgt. Joseph Martins, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “I feel like I learned a lot of ways to manage the stress of a deployment for myself and my wife that we don’t often talk about in the garrison.”
It is important for different organizations to attend the deployment readiness fair to ensure Soldiers and their Families understand the resources available to them, said Kim McKenzie, supervisor casualty affairs coordinator, Fort Campbell Casualty Assistance Center.
“We realize that our Soldiers’ Families are in a time that can be very unsettling to them and somewhat fearful,” she said. “When their Soldiers deploy, Casualty Assistance wants to ensure they understand the processes to alleviate those fears or uncertainties, because we fear what we don’t know.”
The Casualty Assistance Center is responsible for providing survivor benefits and entitlements to Families of fallen Soldiers, and the agency provided a briefing and informational table during the fair.
“One thing we try to add specifically during deployment is that the Soldiers’ Families should let someone know where they’re going if they’re out of town for a period of time,” McKenzie said. “If they let someone in their rear detachment know they’re going to be out of town for a little while they can be reached if there’s an emergency.”
Client Services was also on hand to help Soldiers and Families with their legal affairs as they prepare for potential deployment.
“Mostly what Soldiers are really worried about with legal assistance prior to a deployment are things like powers of attorney and wills,” said Capt. Tom Witkowski, chief, Client Services, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell. “We have a table set up where we’ll do powers of attorney on the fly for Soldiers and their Family members that are interested.”
Other services included consultations on wills and more specialized powers of attorney, and attendees could schedule follow-up visits to the Client Services office to execute them. The facility is located at 2765 Tennessee Ave. and offers walk-in assistance to those residing within 50 miles of the installation.
“I think this fair allows us to have a touchpoint with Soldiers and their Families,” Witkowski said. “We brief everyone when the Soldiers and their Families arrive at the installation, but oftentimes that’s been months or years ago, and it’s a good way for us to remind them about all the excellent resources that our office is able to provide.”
The American Red Cross is another key player in deployment readiness, and they attended the fair to raise awareness of their emergency services. More information is available online at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/military-families/emergency-communication.html.
“Really the big piece for us is making sure that Soldiers and Family members have the Hero Care Network number [877-272-7337],” said Travis Burchett, regional officer, Service to the Armed Forces, American Red Cross. “It allows Family members to put in their Soldier’s information in case there’s an emergency at home while they’re deployed, whether it’s at JRTC or overseas. That way the Red Cross can facilitate getting information to the organization and make sure the commander has what they need to make a decision for the Soldier.”
Representatives from the American Red Cross discussed additional opportunities for resiliency programs and stress solutions to help Family members through their Soldiers’ absences.
Family-focused programs were a major part of the deployment readiness fair as spouses are readying themselves to manage single-parent households in the event their Soldiers are ordered to deploy.
“We recognize the challenges facing Soldiers and their Families by offering quality programs for children,” said Laquvia Garrett, assistant director, Parent and Outreach Services, Child and Youth Services, Fort Campbell Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “CYS supports the Army Family by reducing the conflict between mission readiness and parental responsibility, so we are here to assist the Families in any way possible.”
CYS shared details with Families about deployment benefits, respite care hours, youth programs and more during the event. All of that information remains available for those who were unable to attend.
“Anyone who couldn’t make it to the deployment readiness fair but has children in CYS or would like to use our services can bring a copy of their Soldier’s orders to our location at Parent Central Services in the Soldier Support Center,” Garrett said. “They can either come in or contact us at 270-798-0674, and we can then put them in the system and make sure they get what they need.”
Representatives from across the garrison showcased that same level of commitment to Soldiers and Families during the event, and attendees left more confident and prepared for the future.
“I came here because of all the unknowns when you’re in a deployment state,” Army spouse Rachel Snyder said. “There’s always a possibility, and I’d prefer to be prepared. I’m new to the area and this gave me a lot of information and numbers to call. I would encourage other spouses or Family members, especially younger ones, to attend events like these because it was a really helpful experience.”
Anyone who could not attend, can find deployment resources information through the Digital Garrison App as well as the Fort Campbell website at https://home.army.mil/campbell/index.php/about/faq/deployment-support-services.