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Army Secretary Vows More Support for Deployed, Families

Posted January 17, 2008

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— Army Secretary Pete Geren said Thursday that the military is trying to ease the burden that deployments put on soldiers and their families.

During a visit to Fort Bragg, Geren said he is optimistic that a drawdown of troops in the War on Terror could lead to shorter deployments. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said Wednesday that 15-month tours might be cut to 12 months by the summer.

"But you have to caveat that – it depends on what happens on the ground – and be careful in trying to project the future," Geren said.

About 16,000 Fort Bragg soldiers are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 156 members of the 82nd Airborne Division have been killed in fighting in the two countries.

Long and multiple deployments have stressed out soldiers and an estimated 500,000 dependents at home, and Geren expressed concern for the soldiers and spouses who have endured them.

“The strain of the global War on Terror has exposed seams and inadequacies in our support for families,” he said. “As an Army, we’re trying to do more to help families work through the demands of the conflict. But there’s no substitute for what a community can do – and what this community does."

Many Fort Bragg spouses work as volunteers for family support groups, and Geren says the Army is trying to ease the burden.

"Last summer, we put over $100 million into family support programs, adding more full-time support employees to support the family readiness group efforts, putting more money into childcare to reduce the cost and expand the availability," he said.

A Soldier and Family Assistance Center became fully operational on Fort Bragg two weeks ago. The center serves as a one-stop shop for support services like money management, childcare, chaplain assistance, legal assistance, military personnel issues, benefits counseling, education and employment opportunities.

Next year, the Army plans to begin a $16 million expansion of Robinson Health Center, and work is expected to begin in 2010 on a $21 million primary care clinic.

The Army also is working beef up psychiatric treatment for soldiers, especially recognizing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, Geren said.

"We've taught literally every soldier in the Army information about PTSD, how to spot it, how to get treatment, and are working to reduce the stigma so that people will get treatment," he said.

During his visit, Geren stopped at the 1st Battalion of the 505th Parachute Regiment to see a memorial for eight soldiers killed in Iraq.

“There’s no place in America that’s carried a heavier burden than Fort Bragg when it comes to the global War on Terror,” he said.


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  • Lissa13082 Jan 18, 2008

    sww1rb - I did not see a single post relating in any way directly to Bush.... Even though he is a CROCK, none of these comments stated it in this article... But it's not his fault that his mom and dad didn't give him enough war games to play as a child and that now he feels like he has to play war games with our country....

  • Lissa13082 Jan 18, 2008

    GafanMclovin - that must have been just recenty because as of a year ago, they had absolutley nothing in place for those who got out of the military unless they initiated it themselves. The only problem is that some of them are too proud to admit they have a problem, even when everyone around them clearly sees that they need help. So they don't get the help they need.

  • Worland Jan 18, 2008

    tbajr, the GWOT started in Afghanistan as a result of 9/11. The invasion of Iraq and WMD was something entirely different (though we did find terrorist training camps in Iraq).

    There's absolutely nothing illegal about the GWOT or Iraq. Just FYI for the ignorant, there are over 100 countries actively participating in the GWOT. At any given time, troops from 20 different countries are fighting along side us in Iraq & Afghanistan. This is hardly GW's little war. Ecuador and Romania get it, why can't our own people?

  • Adelinthe Jan 18, 2008

    tabjr - This has been going on since WWI and before. It didn't just start four years ago. Quit blaming everything on Bush. Educate yourself fully before commenting.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Jan 18, 2008

    About time, I say. Troops have been nothing but numbers for decades upon decades, and their families have been considered invisible.

    These are no longer draftees. They're brave and proud people who CHOOSE to put their lives in harm's way for the good of our country and its people.

    Praying for them all and for their families, bearing a burden few of us could ever understand.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • tbajr Jan 18, 2008

    The Global War on Terror, started out to find some weapons of
    mass destruction and has expanded into "a world police action".
    No matter what name you give it, or how you glorify it, the action is immoral, illegal, and it is not in our heritage to ask
    our American soldiers to give their lives to enforce the United
    Nations sanctions!!!

  • G-Dawg Jan 18, 2008

    NCchick: You used to be correct, but we now have mandatory classes for PTSD.

  • Lissa13082 Jan 18, 2008

    "The Army also is working beef up psychiatric treatment for soldiers, especially recognizing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, Geren said."

    What about psychiatric treatment for soldiers who have PTSD, have gotten out of the military, but don't think they have a problem?? They have NOTHING in place for that! They have no where for friends and family to call if they think that their soldier has a problem, the only way they can get help is if they go seek it themselves. Most of them either don't realize they have a serious problem or are too proud to admit it and actually seek help. That's a very sad thing that there is nothing in place to help with that and it has such an effect on everyone.