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Friends Help Ease Military Separations
By Maria L. Yost / Fort Hood Sentinel Living Editor

FORT HOOD, Texas, Dec. 16, 2004 – Six months ago, Kathy Beech wasn't sure where the Army would move her family, but the Worcester, Mass., native and her two children arrived here Aug. 1, just in time for her husband Michael's birthday.

Beech says her biggest challenge as a military spouse was moving with the children.

"I enjoy moving, but the older they get it's harder to connect them to the new community," Beech said.

Despite the challenges, Beech enjoyed her 20 years as a military spouse.

"I love the Army life," Beech said smiling. "I like moving around and experiencing different cultures. We've liked every place we've been, but my favorite duty station was Alaska."

"Friends you make can help ease the challenge of separation, Your relationships can really grow and blossom." Beech said.

Beech's favorite memories are of the friends she made at various duty stations.

Beech enjoys spending time with her children, volunteering and exercise.

"That's how I find balance," she says.

Beech is an active volunteer in the Army Family Team Building (AFTB) and the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) programs. As a core instructor with AFTB she instructs trainers at AFTB trainings on the Department of Army level.

"I like volunteering for AFTB because volunteers in this program truly have an impact," Beech said.

Volunteering also helps keeps her in touch with changes in military family life.

Photo, caption below.

Kathy Beech, an active volunteer in the Army Family Team Building (AFTB) and the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) programs. U.S. Army photo

"I could write a book on all of the changes in the Army since I was a new spouse," Beech laughs.

Some of those positive changes include better benefits and communication options such as e-mail.

"Also, the Army is now officially recognizing Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) and other support programs," Beech explained. "We used to just call them get-togethers or coffee groups, now they are official support programs."

Beech's experience participating in leadership positions helped prepare her for her role in establishing family support systems within 4th Brigade.

She says the goal is to build strong and ready families who are there for one another and accept challenges, so soldiers will be able to focus on the mission.

Beech recommends new spouses get connected to the unit FRG and find the resources pertinent to their situations.

"We encourage newcomers to go to the FRG to make friends and learn about their spouse's unit," Beech explained. "That way they have someone to call to keep them in the loop."

The 4th Brigade FRGs are starting from scratch, but leadership is recruiting volunteers and trying to connect families through Newcomer Briefings.

"We know it will be a slow process," Beech said. "But both my husband and I feel strongly about making a difference. I like having a positive impact, and I want to give newcomers a chance to be enthusiastic and empowered to make great things happen."

Last Updated:
12/01/2005, Eastern Daylight Time
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