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Keeping connected: School eases burden of separation by interacting with deployed parents

Fort Rucker senior leaders and Fort Rucker Primary School faculty and staff pose with family members of deployed Soldiers after a Deployment Tea luncheon at the Allen Heights Neighborhood Center Feb. 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Fort Rucker senior leaders and Fort Rucker Primary School faculty and staff pose with family members of deployed Soldiers after a Deployment Tea luncheon at the Allen Heights Neighborhood Center Feb. 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: February 25, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 25, 2016) -- Deployments are tough on military families, but Fort Rucker Primary School seeks to ease that burden by making families feel at home no matter how far away a loved one may be.

FRPS hosted its Deployment Tea at the Allen Heights Neighborhood Center Feb. 19 with the help of Corvias Military Housing and The Landing, said Yvette Esteves-Hurst, FRPS Spanish teacher. Families were treated to lunch and got the chance to meet with faculty, other families of deployed Soldiers, as well as members of the Fort Rucker command group as a way to say ‘thank you’ and help ease the burden of deployment, she said.

“We want the children to know that they’re not the only ones going through this, so they feel like they’re in a special club and they love it,” Esteves-Hurst added.

Esteves-Hurst and Rene Hammond, FRPS guidance counselor, are the two primary volunteers for the deployment club, and both agree that it’s a necessary effort.

Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, Command Sgt. Maj. William D. Lohmeyer, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and Dr. Beverly K. Joiner, Fort Rucker deputy to the garrison commander, were among the Fort Rucker leaders to attend the Deployment Tea, and were there to provide their thanks and appreciation for the families and Soldiers going through deployment.

Staff Sgt. Raul Medina, Mission Installation Contracting Command, who recently served a nine-month deployment, said it was comforting to know that not only was the staff of the school looking after his family, but that senior leadership cared, as well.

“It makes me feel like they’re here looking out for my family while I’m deployed,” he said. “While I was deployed, they would send me emails and let me know what my children were doing in school, so there is definitely a lot of appreciation there.”

Part of that care with the family is to make sure the deployed Soldier is connected with his or her child, as well, said Hammond.

“Deployed (Soldiers) receive a newsletter periodically, and this keeps them informed of what we’re doing and what their children are doing throughout the week or month, so parents get to know what’s going on,” she said. “Even though they’re not here, they’re still a part of it.”

And while the deployed Soldiers are being kept informed, the children are being taken care of at school with activities throughout the year.

“We do activities with these children throughout the year, and during these activities and crafts, we talk to the children about deployment and what it means and how it makes them feel,” said Esteves-Hurst. “The children love it because they see that they’re not the only ones going through something like this and they now belong to this club.”

In addition to being treated to lunch, Medina said nothing can top the feeling of being connected that the program provides.

“It’s very important to feel that connection when you’re deployed,” he said. “I’ve deployed on several other deployments from other installations and I’ve never had anything like this, so having this now is a big difference.

“I think it made a big impact on me being able to know what my children were doing, and it made the separation a little bit easier,” he continued. “When I came home, the transition was a lot better than on previous deployments, so I think it definitely helped.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/163023/

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