Family Readiness Group Prepares Spouses for Redeployment

Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th SC(E) Public Affairs

The 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Family Readiness Group Deployment Assistant hosted Spouses' Reunion Workshops at the 13th SC(E) Chapel here Monday and Wednesday and are planning future workshops for spouses of Soldiers within the group who will be redeploying soon from supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

The workshops are designed to assist spouses and family members with many adjustments and stressors of welcoming Soldiers home from deployments and to prepare the spouses for the challenges that come with reintegrating as a family, said FRG deployment assistant Rose Mandujano.

Topics discussed during the workshops include combat stress for family members, provided by Soldiers of the 85th Medical Detachment, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th SC(E); children reunion, provided by Family Advocacy; stress management reduction, provided by Darnall Mental Health; and Dating Habits for Marital Relationships, provided by the 13th SC(E) Chaplains' Office.

Lunch and childcare are provided free of charge for family members who pre-register for the workshops. In addition, door prizes are handed out and Mary Kay representatives provide pampering sessions, including free product samples and facials, during the lunch hour.

Mary Kay Independent Sales Directors Lisha Hernandez and Robin Cypress also donated Mary Kay gift certificates to workshop participants.

"I used to be an FRG leader for six years," said Cypress, "and I survived two deployments, so I definitely understand what (reuniting) is like. I truly understand the stress the spouses go through.

"(Spouses) need to take time to take care of themselves," Cypress added, explaining why she and Hernandez donated their time, skills and products for the workshops.

Family members also received training on progressive muscle relaxation and visualization techniques to assist them in relieving stress during the months of transition that lie ahead. Angie Garcia, of Care Management, Department of Social Work, said it is important for family members to remember every Soldier has to reintegrate and there are issues that come with that. An important thing for these families to remember, however, is there are people and programs designed to help deal with these issues.

Sgt. Yolanda Willis, of the 85th Medical Detachment, discussed some of these issues Wednesday during the Combat Stress for Family Members block of instruction. She explained the camaraderie often developed during deployments and urged family members to be patient with redeploying Soldiers and give these Soldiers the opportunity to transition from one "family" to the other. Willis also explained the importance of allowing Soldiers time to readjust.

"Spouses, let (readjustment) happen," Willis said. "Be patient and let your spouse know, 'I'm here.' Reassure your spouse and slowly transition and form a routine."

Willis was joined by Spc. Timothy Gross and Pvt. Mario Torralva to demonstrate, using role-playing techniques, some of the effects of reunion and issues that could arise.

"Seeing the situation (as demonstrated by Willis, Gross and Torralva) … I'm glad this is being done," said Julie Campbell, who attended the workshop Wednesday.

"It made me think, what would I do if I were in that situation," added Crystal Loyd.

This is exactly what the FRG assistants wanted when they approached the idea of pre-redeployment workshops. Families within the 64th CSG requested a more hands-on approach to reintegration training so they could play an active role in sharing their ideas, concerns and experiences, so the assistants spoke with Army Community Service personnel and developed the idea for pre-redeployment workshops for spouses and other family members, said Mandujano.

"The Spouses' Reunion Workshops are held to educate and help families understand that what they are experiencing is normal," Mandujano added.

"Preparing the spouses for redeployment is our responsibility because they have given the ultimate price of holding down the home front while their Soldiers were protecting our country," Mandujano continued. "Families encounter many challenges during separation. Separation from a loved one for an extended period of time incurs stress. Having that loved one assigned to a hazardous assignment only heightens the stress levels for both you and your Soldiers.

"Adjusting to your Soldier's return will take time, patience and flexibility from your entire family, children included."

Registration and additional information for upcoming workshops is available through the 64th Corps Support Group Family Readiness Group Deployment Assistants'Office at 286-5966.


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Participants in the Spouses' Reunion Workshops, sponsored by Family Readiness Group Deployment Assistants of the 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), discuss redeployment issues Wednesday. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge)

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Spc. Timothy Gross and Pvt. Mario Torralva, of the 85th Medical Detachment, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), demonstrate issues resulting from redeployment and reintegrating into families and garrison life during Spouses' Reunion Workshops at the 13th SC(E) Chapel here Wednesday. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge)

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Participants of the Spouses' Reunion Workshops were given the opportunity to take home a basket of Mary Kay products donated by Mary Kay Independent Sales Directors Lisha Hernandez and Robin Cypress. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge)