News: Doors open to families, friends, employers
Story by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In order to maintain support from families, friends and employers, the Colorado Army National Guard opened its doors to discuss the upcoming deployment for more than 100 Coloradoans.
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, Colorado Army National Guard, held a town hall meeting, also known as a Family Readiness Group event, where families, friends and employers got a chance to hear about the upcoming deployment and ask any questions to the leadership at the unit's Colorado Springs Armory, Feb. 26.
"More than 200 families turned out for the event," said Battery Commander Ashkan Angha.
Kicking off the event, Angha re-enlisted five Soldiers for six-year contracts, Sgt. 1st Class Gene Bendico; Spc. Terence Mahathey; Spc. Neil Pappas; Spc. Kevin Jenkins and Private Johnny Agostini.
"[Families] get to see what it means to take an oath to defend and protect the constitution of the United States," Angha said. "They see it in the news, they see it other places, but seeing it right in front of them – it's their Soldier," said Angha hoping the impact was greater for both the Soldiers and families to experience the re-enlistment ceremony together.
The purpose of the event was to ensure families, employers and Soldiers were on the same page about the upcoming deployment and knew where to turn with questions.
Booths ranging from the American Red Cross to TriWest and Military OneSource to Pikes Peak Workforce Center were available to families during the two-hour event.
Rear Detachment Commander Maj. Charles Zakhem reassured the families with some of his first-hand experience from his deployment to Iraq. He informed families about methods to get in touch with their Soldiers such as via postal mail or e-mail, and what they can and cannot send their Soldiers while overseas.
Three employers were recognized during the event with an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve award.
The unit's next Family Readiness Group event is scheduled for mid-March. This event, known as the 60-day Yellow Ribbon Program event, is mandatory for all deploying 157th FA Soldiers. Families and friends are encouraged to attend.