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Fort Sill Spouses Go Through ‘Field Exercises’

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2009 – More than 300 military spouses attended one of two "Field Exercises" recently at Fort Sill, Okla., designed to assist them in dealing with life while their deployed spouses are away.

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Tara Crooks, foreground, and Starlett "Star" Henderson, founders of Army Wife Network, listen to spouses share their personal deployment experiences during a "Field Exercise" event held April 23-24, 2009, at Fort Sill, Okla. More than 300 spouses gathered for the two-day event, created to empower and rejuvenate military spouses whose husbands are deployed. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Starlett "Star" Henderson and Tara Crooks, founders of the Army Wife Network, created the program so deployment-weary spouses could enjoy a break and connect with other spouses facing similar challenges.

“The Field Exercises were created to empower and rejuvenate military spouses,” Crooks said. “We are devoted to changing the lives of our warriors and their families through a sincere desire to help military spouses where it matters most: in the field. These families deserve a night of appreciation and pampering. They need information and an opportunity to meet other spouses in order to succeed in military life.”

The April 23-24 event featured tips and shared experiences, allowing spouses to learn about deployment survival resources while empowering them to make the right choices in their relationships, careers and personal lives and encouraging an outlet for relief and creativity in the often-stressful military lifestyle.

“We talked about the myths surrounding deployment, reintegration and ideas for staying connected,” Crooks said. “After the break, we went over themed care-package ideas and talked about ways to send care packages and get others involved.”

Book lists for military spouses and children also were shared at the event. As an added bonus, registered guests received giveaways such as an iPod Touch, a digital camera, pearl earrings and spa certificates, and they also got well-stocked gift bags containing massage gel, key chains, books and snacks for them and their servicemember spouses.

“Overall, this opportunity for sharing information, trading ideas and strategies, networking and building lasting relationships was a free ‘time-out’ for them,” Crooks said.

Attendees of the event were pleased.

“I attended both days,” Carol Herrick, a Fort Sill Army spouse, said. “I enjoyed spending time with other Army spouses who have experienced deployment and this challenging Army lifestyle. Tara and Star are high-energy, and you feel instantly connected to them as they tell their story.”

Carla S. Norris, another Fort Sill Army wife, agreed.

“The information about resources that are available was so vast,” Norris said. “Even as a spouse who has been in the Army for 15 years, I learned about resources that I had not previously been aware of. It was wonderful to share the camaraderie with other spouses. The Field Exercises were a very enjoyable event!”

Previous “Field Exercises” have taken place at Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Campbell, Ky. The Army Wife Network will visit Fort Bliss, Texas, on June 4 and 5 for Field Exercises.

“Field Exercises will always be about getting servicemembers and families together to see the faces of individuals who also experience military culture shock and to allow networking for long-lasting, satisfying relationships on their post or in their community,” Crooks said. “Without the support of sponsors like USAA, these exercises would not be possible.”

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFort Sill, Okla., Army spouses look over deployment kits provided by USAA at a "Field Exercise" event held April 23-24, 2009. More than 300 spouses attended the survival and resources seminar presented by Army Wife Network founders Tara Crooks and Starlett "Star" Henderson. Courtesy photo  
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