News: ‘Providers’ help build stronger relationships and family bonds
Story by Sgt. Tanjie Patterson
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — While deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade provides soldiers with the necessary resources to live in a healthy and secure environment while separated from family and friends.
The ‘Providers’ offer a variety of avenues to help stay in touch with loved ones. Holiday greetings, or video messages, are recorded on a particular holiday and then uploaded to the Web or sent to the soldier’s hometown for their family members to see. The 3rd Sustainment Brigade also hosts command team family readiness group meetings, quarterly, and provides access to telephones and computers so that soldiers can stay connected throughout their combat tour.
Many people recognize the military as soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors, but there is another group that belongs in the armed forces’ category and that is family members. Family members play a large part in the military organization. The family members may not have enlisted per se, but they support and make sacrifices along with their service member.
Separation during a deployment can be stressful on both the soldier and the family members. Spouses on the home front are now faced with juggling the bills, taking care of the kids and other household activities that would normally be tag-teamed with their deployed soldier. Vice versa, soldiers on the frontlines can face complications too, like dealing with the emotional aspect of being away. It can be difficult for both sides, but knowing that they have the support of each other can make the situation easier to cope with.
“The biggest challenge I face being away from my family is maintaining effective communication and remaining relevant in their lives,” said Master Sgt. Paul Lloyd, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade support operation’s mobility non-commissioned officer in charge, and native of Orlando, Fla.
Lloyd, who has been married for 13 years, said although his wife is a former soldier and understands his job and its demands, his eight-year-old-son demands they stay connected despite the distance between them.
“We came up with the plan for me to not only stay in contact with my son but also be active in his school,” he said.
Lloyd converses with his son and the rest of his third grade class once a week via Skype.
“I enjoy talking to my son and his classmates,” he said. “They ask me all kinds of interesting questions, like ‘do we have hotdogs?’ or ‘how far is Afghanistan?’ and ‘what is the weather like?’ I responded to the weather question by saying ‘it was 70 degrees,’ and one child asked me if that was Fahrenheit or Celsius? All I could do was laugh because I didn’t know the answer.”
Lloyd said he enjoys talking to the children in his son’s class because he enjoys being a positive role model for them.
“My son enjoys it too because it makes him feel like the big man on campus,” he said.
Even with all the means to talk to family members back home, it still might not be as easy for some soldiers to do. Being able to communicate sometimes takes more than Skype, e-mail, or a phone call.
“You have to have the tools to be able to communicate effectively,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sean Grandon, a master resilience trainer with the 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and native of Ripley, W.Va. “When I went through the MRT course I realized a lot about myself and the way I communicate with my family. I quickly readjusted the way I spoke and the way I listened.”
Grandon, who tries to engage with the soldiers regularly, said he shares with them as much of his resiliency training he’s learned as possible. He added that communication is critical and that the 3rd Sustainment Brigade uses the right tools to ensure comprehensive soldier fitness.
This article is part five of a five-part series related to comprehensive soldier and family fitness.
Date Posted:02.15.2013 10:11
Location:KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AF
Hometown:FORT STEWART, GA, US
Hometown:HINESVILLE, GA, US
Hometown:ORLANDO, FL, US
Hometown:RIPLEY, WV, US
Hometown:SAVANNAH, GA, US