Heading to war isn’t just tough on soldiers.
Families of deployed troops have their own pressures to deal with — from handling day-to-day challenges at home on their own to worrying about the well-being of a loved one in a war zone.
Supporting family members during deployment is the focus of each unit’s Family Readiness Group.
Deployment will be a new experience for Judia R. Ziegner of Newfane, Vt., whose husband, Capt. Adam D. Ziegner, commands the Army Reserve’s 220th Transportation Company.
Ziegner, along with Shirley A. Concepcion — whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Henry Concepcion of Taunton, Mass., leads the 220th’s First Platoon — is heading up the unit’s Family Readiness Group.
During the training period and deployment, members of the Family Readiness Group, made up of some soldiers’ family members and some local veterans, will stay in touch with a soldier’s loved ones.
They’ll offer support and information on help with everything from car problems and medical issues to stress and loneliness.
They’ll make calls on birthday and anniversaries, or just to check in and support families, Judia Ziegner said.
At full strength, the unit will include more than 100 soldiers. Most hail from the Northeast, but others come from as far away as California and Texas.
Providing support for families from all over the country will be challenging, but the group has set up a Web site that will provide links to resources and forums to keep families posted on the unit, Ziegner said.
“Our hope is to make this a really positive experience,” she said. “We want to have monthly or bimonthly meetings with people that can make it and send materials to the families that can’t so they can still participate.”
The groups can really help families struggling to deal with the stress of deployment, said Shirley Concepcion. Her husband will be deploying for the third time.
“Even having someone to help if your hot water heater breaks can be a huge relief,” she said. “It’s just another pressure on top of what you’re already going through.”
To help prepare families for the upcoming deployment, families and all the soldiers will gather for an event this spring where the Army will provide them with information and ways to get help.
The soldiers will also get two weeks of leave to spend with their families before heading to Iraq.
But today, at a special ceremony in Keene, they will say goodbye for the first time.
How to get involved
u The 220th Transportation Company’s Family Readiness Group welcomes volunteers from the community. For more information on how to get involved with the group, e-mail Judia Ziegner at firstname.lastname@example.org.