News: Army spouses build camaraderie as deployment comes to a close
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT KNOX, Ky. - The newest team of soldiers on Fort Knox, Ky., are not wearing dog tags and high and tight haircuts.
Instead on Nov. 6, 72 Army wives of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, donned their husbands' protective vests and loaded up their rucksacks for the unit’s annual Spouses Soldier-for-a-day event.
Similar to many units’ G.I. Jane Day, the Soldier-for-a-day event allows dependents to live a day in the life of their soldiers.
With the majority of the 3rd IBCT deployed to Afghanistan, events like these have played an important role for the “Duke” families to come together and build camaraderie, Ally Reese, 3rd IBCT’s Family Readiness senior adviser, said.
“We hear the word resiliency a lot, but really these types of events – where we can bring spouses together – shows the spouses they’re a lot stronger than they think,” Reese added.
To start the event, participants separated into three groups and then traveled in different directions - each with their own unique mission.
While one group of the women warriors loaded up for transportation to eliminate a simulated enemy at the Electronic Skills Trainer, another began the grueling ruck march to the Dunagan Teamwork Development Course where they navigated over and under a series of wooden obstacles.
“This was really a great way for us to get a small taste of what our guys do,” Jessica Fedorisin, spouse of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd IBCT, 1st Infantry Division, said, as she tried to catch her breath.
Just a few miles away, another group of hesitant spouses faced their fear of heights as they descended down a daunting 50-foot rappel tower.
“There is a little hesitation when they see an event like a large rappel tower or the confidence course but once they got into it they were highly motivated and had a ball,” Reese said.
“I wasn’t nervous until I looked down … everyone looked really tiny,” Julie Yost, wife of Capt. Eric Yost said. “I told myself, ‘Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have done this.’”
Despite harsh winds and a torrential downpour just on the horizon, one by one, Yost and her fellow teammates overcame their fears and conquered the rappel tower.
For Marites Luna, whose husband, Tomas, is currently, deployed with the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd IBCT overcoming the challenges were just another way to get through her first deployment without her other half.
“The deployment has been very difficult, but I have my kids and my friends here to help me get through it … and being able to come out here and meet new people and talk with the spouses really helps,” Luna said.
To reward the spouses for their physical as well as their emotional achievements, members of the 3rd IBCT presented each participant with a certificate of achievement and reminded them that, while the deployment and their sacrifices are not over, the end is in sight.
“We were able to instill a lot of confidence in the spouses and reassured them they will be able to get through the deployment and that they are truly Duke strong and Army Strong,” Reese said.
Many of the spouses hope to begin welcoming their husbands home later this month.
Photos from this event can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31dutyfirst/sets/72157637385851694/