Soldiers, families prepare

From Staff Reports

     Members of the 776th Maintenance Company and their families met with military insurance personnel, Army chaplains and members of the Red Cross Friday evening at Oak Street Baptist Church as part of a support group set up for the family members who will be left behind when the National Guard unit moves out next week.
     "They started setting the group up prior to this," said Capt. Patrick Ellis of the 776th Maintenance Company. "For a lot of them, though, this is actually their first meeting." After the company leaves, the group will have periodic meetings, he added.
     According to Ellis, the group was set up to offer assistance and information to the families of the unit. "So that if there is some kind of problem that arises, there will be some kind of additional support for them," he said.
     Military insurance representatives attended the meeting, which was mandatory for the soldiers and their families, to explain insurance benefits and other services available to the families while the soldiers are on active duty. "They fall under the TriCare insurance benefits," Ellis said. "The representatives are here to explain to them what all that covers."
     Personnel from the American Red Cross also attended the meeting. "They explained that if a family emergency came up, how they could get in touch with the soldiers through the proper channels," Ellis said.
     Army chaplains offered comfort to the families and explained the role of chaplains to those in attendance. "They basically explained their roles and how they help the soldiers," Ellis said, who added that the chaplains are there if soldiers or family members need someone to talk to on a confidential basis. The chaplains also explained to the families the kind of religious services they provide.
     Some area ministers were on hand at the meeting to provide counseling or just a friendly ear to the families and members of the company.
     The meeting was a part of the preparation for the departure of the 776th Maintenance Company, which is scheduled to mobilize on Jan. 30.