By Wendy Brown (USAG Wiesbaden)May 23, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - When U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Commander Col. David Carstens asked a gym full of Wiesbaden Middle School students to raise their hands if they had a parent deploying soon with V Corps, nearly 70 students raised their hands.
When he upped that request to students who had ever had a parent deploy, nearly every hand in the room went up.
Any student with a deploying parent who might have felt alone had good reason not to feel that way anymore thanks to the V Corps Deployment Recognition Program held May 15 at the school.
"Don't forget that you're not alone," said Heidelberg District Superintendent Frank Roehl, who raised his hand and noted that his father deployed when he was growing up and his son has deployed as well. "There's strength in numbers."
With so many students having experienced a parent's deployment, each student in his or her own way can help out other students, Roehl said. "So don't be afraid to speak up when you see a friend or a classmate that seems to be experiencing a difficult time," he said. "Don't be afraid to get involved."
Teachers and administrators are there for students too, Roehl said. "There's nothing wrong with asking for help," he said.
Carstens, who has deployed six times, said his hardest deployment was when his daughter was 3 years old. "I had to miss her birthday, and I had to miss Christmas and all of those important things that mommies and daddies look forward to doing with all of you, regardless of what age you are," he said.
What gave him strength and allowed him to focus on the mission were the notes, emails, gifts and pictures sent by his wife and daughter, Carstens said.
"So after 20-plus years of training, and having the Army teach me all of those things that I needed to know in combat, really the most important thing to me was making sure that my wife and my daughter were OK and that they were thinking about me," Carstens said.
It is important to write deployed parents, Carstens reminded students.
"The Army's motto is Army Strong, and someone once said that the Army is the strength of our nation, our Soldiers are the strength of our Army and our Families are the strength of our Soldiers," Carstens said.
"They would not be able to do it if it wasn't for you," Carstens said. "So think about that. You are the strength really, behind all these great men and women who are getting ready to leave."
Lt. Col. Allan Lindley assured students that V Corps Soldiers have done a lot of training and their parents are well prepared for the mission ahead.
"The most important thing for all of you is to realize that our heart and soul resides back here in Germany with our Families," Lindley said. "The most important thing to us is our children."
Lindley asked the students one favor, however. The Soldiers who most often get hurt accidentally or get in trouble during a deployment are the ones who are worried about their Families and children, he said.
"So I ask you that you please remember that your parents are going to be deployed far away," Lindley said. "Be on your best behavior and continue seeking a great education and behaving yourselves as best as possible."
Lt. Col. Michelle Clark, V Corps rear detachment commander, assured students there will still be a large number of V Corps Soldiers in Wiesbaden supporting the mission.
The V Corps family readiness coordinator has activities planned to make sure Families stay connected while they are apart, Clark said.
Clark, who has three children, said she has deployed herself and knows how difficult it is for both parents and children.
"Whatever it is that you need, please don't suffer in silence," Clark said. "You need to let people know what it is - that you're hurting or that you need help or that you're happy - hopefully it's more happy than sad, but we're here for you."
The program also took on a lighthearted note with a presentation about the planned deployment of Bobcat, a stuffed bobcat who deployed with 1st Armored Division previously and is now a member of V Corps. V Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Sheward announced that BOBCAT has been promoted to the rank of sergeant for this deployment.
Students who have parents deploying with V Corps received a certificate of thanks from the V Corps command.
"I thought it was really good how V Corps recognized the kids," said Marissa Caballero, 13.
Nycholas Cole, 13, said he hopes all the Soldiers come back safely, and he appreciates the fact that V Corps put together the program to thank students.
Shania Swaby, 13, said she thought it was a good idea for V Corps to thank students.
"I really appreciate it, and I'm sure the other students do too," she said.