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Molino: DoD Has 'Great Sensitivity' For Family Needs During Deployments

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2003 – Service members deployed worldwide in the war against terrorism should know that DoD expends great effort in providing support services for their families at home.

DoD learned a lot about family support after U.S. troop deployments to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War and later military operations in Somalia, Haiti, and the Balkans, said John M. Molino, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.

DoD is putting its accumulated knowledge to use for military families during today's war against global terrorism, he said. Designated support activities at installations around the globe, he said, are assisting the families of troops deployed to Afghanistan, and to the Middle East as part of preparations for possible war with Iraq.

"We are sensitive to what families could need in the event of the deployment of a service member," Molino remarked, adding DoD tries hard to anticipate family members' concerns. For instance, he said, available support includes:

  • Increased child care to meet increased needs during deployments.

  • Spousal employment assistance to address concerns and complications arising from deployments.

  • Budget planning and counseling.

  • Counseling and assistance for other family issues, such as deployment anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and violence.
"We have support programs from schools all the way to base family assistance centers to make deployment separations and reunions easier transitions, easier times, although we recognize they're very stressful," he said.

Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the 12 years since the Gulf War, he said. It has greatly enhanced today's military family support programs even as it has raised those families' expectations, Molino remarked.

"Service members who are deployed don't necessarily believe they should be 'cut off' from contact with their families," he said. DoD responds, for example, by making e-mail and instant-messaging services available to members and their families, he noted.

Some Navy bases go even further and offer video-teleconferencing capabilities, he continued. "Usually by appointment, the family can come into a family center stateside, set themselves up, and then see their loved one over a video- teleconferencing facility aboard ship.

"There are many stories that come out of deployments where a service member sees his child for the first time in a video-teleconference. It's very, very moving," Molino added.

It's important for family members to realize that anxiety is normal when military members deploy, he emphasized. Today's U.S. military has top-notch people, training and equipment, "but it's still natural to be a little bit nervous about what is happening and what might happen," he pointed out.

Consequently, in today's era of multiple military deployments, DoD offers support programs for service members and their families, Molino said.

One such program, Marine Corps Community Services' One Source, offers active duty and reserve Marines and their families around-the-clock referral services via toll-free phone number: (800) 433-6868 in the continental United States and (800) 237-42374 overseas. One Source also has a Web site at www.mccsonesource.com that can be accessed only after establishing a user name and password by calling the appropriate toll-free phone number.

Molino also urged people to contact their local family support officials if they have trouble dealing with deployments.

"Don't feel stigmatized, as if somehow you're less than capable, less than strong," Molino said. "There is nothing wrong with getting a little help."

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