Beth Hendrix has several things she must do before her husband deploys to Iraq this fall with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
There’s the obligatory trip to the TRICARE office to check on and address medical concerns and her family’s coverage. She also needs to figure out what support services are available for her and her newborn baby boy. Perhaps most importantly, Hendrix has to be sure that her and her husband’s financial and legal issues are squared away well in advance of his departure.
Fortunately, the young mother was able to chip away at several of these vital tasks Tuesday at the 3rd Brigade’s deployment fair.
The event, held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kelly Hill Recreation Center, brought approximately two dozen organizations together that specialize in offering various types of assistance and support to spouses of deployed soldiers.
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“I came here today to get information on all the different programs that are going to be available to us,” Hendrix said. “This is my second deployment with him, his third, but the first with the baby. So, you know, it’s a lot different with him being gone.”
Staff Sgt. Ronald Louque and his wife, Shanna Louque, attended the fair to learn how to enroll their 3-year-old daughter in a dental plan through TRICARE.
“Also, since this is a collection of all the agencies that support families, I wanted to get more information for my wife and my daughter,” Ronald Lougue said. “You know, that way it’s a one shot, one kill. We won’t have to go looking around, everybody’s already here.”
Brigade commander Col. Peter Jones said events such as the fair are meant to refocus the brigade on deployment readiness.
“I’m trying to have everybody shift their mind-set,” Jones said. “We’ve been — up to this — training, training, training, go to the National Training Center, come back. Now it’s time to think about, well, we’re leaving and what does that entail?
“There’s all these huge agencies of people that are out there to help soldier’s families,” Jones added. “And part of it, again, is communication.”
Aside from Army Emergency Relief and Army Community Service, tables were set up by Fort Benning’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, the Family Advocacy Program and the nonprofit Military Child Education Coalition, which provides among other things tips on how to keep a deployed soldier involved in his or her child’s education.
“When he leaves it gets stressful and it’s hard dealing with things by yourself,” Hendrix said.
“And it’s good to know all that you can before he leaves. I’m one of those information junkies who likes to know everything, especially to plans so I’m really glad that they did this.”
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