WJBF EXTRA: Families Living Through Deployment - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF EXTRA: Families Living Through Deployment

By Courtney Elledge

For every soldier that's deployed, there’s at least a minimum of five people that are will be missing them. Family Readiness Groups at Fort Gordon help fill that gap, and keep those people missing their soldier together.

From single parent financial planning to helping a mom prepare a funeral for her solider, this Family Readiness Group (FRG) is there for the most intense situations, providing counseling and resources when families need them the most.

"Dad, I miss you very much, love Sally." This is the message 7-year-old Sally wants to send her dad. She’s patched it on a quilt to mail to him in Afghanistan, since he’ll be deployed for the next 7 months. She’s just one child...actively involved in the Family Readiness Groups at Fort Gordon. It's up to these 41 groups to help families get through the long road ahead.

"The FRG provides legal information and insurance information, they provide...more importantly, these FRG’s at Fort Gordon offer support the most intense times," says Shawn Williams, who is an Army Community Service Mobilization and Deployment Program Manager.

"During one deployment, we had a solider that was killed, and the chaplain stayed at the house. We cooked meals, and just made sure that the family didn’t have to anything,” says Jocelyn Chambers, whose husband Monte is away in Afghanistan.

Chambers knows her 18–year marriage is anything but conventional. While Monte has served three tours overseas…they’ve spent most of the time apart. Throughout some scary times, she’s seen, firsthand, exactly how the family readiness groups can offer a shoulder to lean on.

"For this household, it's really boosted our morale. This will be my first deployment not wanting to go home and the FRG plays a huge part in that!" Chambers says. Her home is 3,000 miles away in Seattle, Washington. Before getting involved in the FRG, she would move back in with her parents or siblings after Monte was deployed...living in constant fear for her husband’s safety…the pressure of being a single parent became too much to bear.

Chambers says, “I haven’t cried in front of my kids, but I’ve cried. Their guts wrenching, watching their tears. [I] Don’t want to say they’re hardened to it...it’s hardest on the youngest."

That’s when the Family Readiness Group stepped in and provided stability for her children. In place of changing schools, or having to move to Washington, they’ve made lifelong friends. Like a family, these parents and their children are all going through the same challenges together.

Chambers says this strong bond has helped her kids. For them, the members have given them a sense of home.

Chambers explains, "The group is your family. Actually, she came over yesterday morning and took my daughter out on a driving lesson, so because I know that that was my husband's job and I can't teach her. That mother-daughter thing just doesn't go, so she volunteered and she came over took her driving.”

Whether it’s hosting cooking lessons or sending care packages to their soldiers...it’s simple meetings each week that make a huge difference.

“Oh my gosh, I Sleep well at night. I think each of us and, this is probably going to sound cliché, but we are all our brothers’ keeper...we really are. Any FRG is the best example of being your brother’s keeper. Not only because...not only are we going to be there for you, we're going to be there through anything that you going through," says Williams.

Even during those times, when saying goodbye becomes too tough...

Click here to get connected with the Family Readiness Groups.

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