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    Farewell for now


    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera | The Soldiers of the Michigan Army National Guard’s 126th Theater Public Affairs...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera 

    126th Public Affairs Operations Center

    During a deployment the mission is the top priority of the mind, but to the individual Soldier the family they leave behind is the main concern of the heart.
    This is true for every deploying unit including the Michigan Army National Guard’s 126th Theater Public Affairs Support Element who are mobilizing today January 28, 2020, from their home station at Fort Custer, Augusta, Michigan, for the first time for many of its Soldiers.
    “For me it’s a mix of both nervousness and excitement, it’s my first deployment, so I’ve never actually done this before,” said Sgt. Robert Douglas, a resident of St. Clair Shores, and a public affairs non-commissioned officer for the 126th TPASE. “It’s a whole new thing, luckily for me I have a few members of my unit who have deployed before, and I’m sure I’ll be leaning on them especially at the beginning to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
    Douglas will be relying on members of his unit to guide him through his first steps of the mobilization and deployment, but soon he will find his own rhythm. His plans regarding his family run along the same lines, with him relying on his uncles who are prior service to help out his parents and sister through the foreseeable future.
    “It’s good to know that some of my own family members have their own past experiences and are there to help out, and that even though I’ll be gone I will be able to focus on the mission at hand and not worrying about home,” said Douglas.
    For the Soldiers who are the first in their family to serve in the military, the National Guard is there to help.
    “The Army realized shortly after 9/11 and war was declared on terrorism, that the families back home needed services as well as the Soldiers. The Family Assistance Center program was born out of the necessity to assist Soldiers and their families with relief from financial stress and supporting the families back home, so that the Soldiers overseas could focus on their daily mission,” said Cindie Adams, a specialist with the FAC at the Fort Custer.
    As a specialist with the FAC, Adams does much to help Soldiers and their families whether they are deployed or not; their services are always there. She helps the families understand on a basic level what happens during Army training. She helps Soldiers or their families fill out the right paperwork in order to get health insurance, and in cases of financial emergency they will provide the referrals to the right community resources to help. She also provides resources to help the family members who are having trouble handing the emotional fallout from the deployment.
    “One of the main things I do during deployments is I reach out to the families of the deployed service member,” said Adams. “I do that every month just to do a health and welfare check, and make sure things are ok.”
    Units do not just rely on Adams and the FAC during deployments; they also appoint leaders to the units’ Family Readiness Group. The leaders, who are volunteers, go through training from the state and then will coordinate with the unit commander on what information they can pass along to the families.
    “I am excited to be able to help, I never thought that I would be an Army wife, but I respect it a lot and I’m glad there’s something that I can do without having to go through basic training,” said Rebecca Wooten, the leader of the FRG for the 126th TPASE.
    Wooten is the wife of Sgt. Temos Wooten, both of Waterville, Ohio, and they were married recently last summer after a lifelong friendship. The deployment may have moved up the wedding day, however, it did not put damper on the festivities, because of their long term friendship she knew what her husband did, but she really didn’t consider at the time that he might deploy, while it is problematic the she knows she can get through it.
    Since receiving the training and going to the Yellow Ribbon event, Wooten has learned more about what she volunteered for when her husband asked her to be the leader of the unit’s FRG.
    “I have been surprised at how many resources are available, that if something does come up, there are so many services that are available for the families of the deployed Soldiers or to the Soldier, that I was unaware of before. I hope people do reach out and ask for help if they need it,” said Wooten.
    The Yellow Ribbon is an event where all the Soldiers and their families receive the necessary information for the deployment. It is also a chance for the families to meet each other and get to know some of the people who are going through the same process and to see who their loved ones will be spending a lot of the foreseeable future together.
    “To see the amount of love and support at that event was almost overwhelming and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to have that small glimpse into their lives and to see that there are people there to support them,” said Lt. Col. Savannah Halleaux, commander of the 126th TPASE. “I’m also very grateful to them for allowing us to borrow their family member and their friend to do this mission.”
    Halleaux, a resident of Durand, knows what she speaks of, as the daughter of one Soldier and as the wife of another, she has been on many sides of the deployment, this being her second.
    “I’m in a unique position in that both my husband and I are both military and we’ve both deployed which means that we’ve both experienced being the person who deploys into a combat zone, into a hazardous duty area and we’ve also experienced being the person who stays home too,” said Halleaux. “I’ve actually found that being the person who stays home, in a lot of ways is much harder than being the person who deploys.”
    This deployment will be different as it is the first time she is deploying with a public affairs unit, and the unit will be operating very differently from other military units. The Soldiers will be divided into several teams and sent out with other units to cover what they are doing. Halleaux will be relying on her officers to let her know how everyone is doing. She sees no problem here since the unit specializes in information.
    “In public relations, we are a very specialized skill set, and it’s a highly valuable specialized skill set that the command teams and the Soldiers need because they need their story told, the accurate, truthful story,” said Halleaux.
    The deployment will be new for many of the Soldiers, because many who have deployed before have not done so in their current position, so while some parts of deployment stay the same the job and the family do not. The Soldiers of the 126th do not need to worry about theirs, there are many on the home front who are standing by to help out.



    Date Taken: 01.28.2020
    Date Posted: 02.12.2020 12:47
    Story ID: 360840
    Location: AUGUSTA, MI, US 

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