<B> FORT BENNING, Ga. </B>- The 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, held a deployment fair for its Soldiers and Families at the Kelley Hill Recreation Center, on Fort Benning, Aug. 19.The 3rd HBCT, which will deploy to Iraq in October, had 25 service organizations at the event in an effort to inform 3rd HBCT Families about the services."Today's event is one-stop shopping," said Stephanie Jones, the wife of 3rd HBCT commander Col. Pete Jones. "It allows Soldiers and their spouses to come in and see all the options they have at their disposal while the brigade is deployed. There are so many programs and organizations that are set up to assist our military Families, and this is a good way to get that information out."As the brigade's deployment date grows closer, the Families of the 3rd HBCT are planning for the Soldiers' time away from home."This event is another way I am getting ready," said Mary Cass, the wife of Pvt. Brandon Cass, an artillerymen in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment. "This is our first deployment, so I'm trying to get as much information as I can about the unit and the deployment. I'm staying here at Fort Benning, and this event helped a lot. I learned a lot about what was available."Candace Sharpe, a Family readiness group leader for the Brigade Special Troop Battalion's Headquarters Company thought the event was well organized."It was easy to get around, and they had a lot of different booths," she explained. "As an FRG leader, I wanted to check it out and get as much information as I could."According to Jones, 3rd HBCT spouses can do a number of things to keep plugged in while the brigade is away."The FRGs are vitally important," she said. "During the deployment, they will be the best source of information and are designed to help Families get the support they need."Stephanie Jones also emphasized that churches, support groups and community volunteer programs are excellent ways for spouses to get the support they need while their Soldier is away from home.
Many of the spouses of the 3rd HBCT will be focusing on education during the deployment."I'm planning on working on my degree," said Mary Cass. "It will give me something to focus on and stay busy. I'm looking at it as an opportunity to get a lot accomplished."Whatever they plan on doing while their spouses are away, Jones wants 3rd HBCT Families to stay in the right frame of mind."Keeping a positive attitude is important," she said. "Children feed off what their parents give them. If a spouse is positive and upbeat, it makes it much easier for the children to get back to normal. It also keeps the Soldiers focused on their job over there. If they aren't worried about what is going on at home, they can focus more on being safe."