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Military Plans to Improve Conditions for Left-Behind Families

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FORT BRAGG — Being in the military often means long separations from family and friends. Sometimes service men and women are away for months on deployment, but a new plan is giving military personnel more quality time with their families.

The policy guarantees most soldiers at least one month at home for every month of deployment. That gives soldiers the opportunity to plan events for those time they know they will be available, which can mean more quality time with loved ones.

Soldiers must go off to do their jobs. It comes with the territory. But that doesn't make it any easier when the time for tearful send-offs rolls around. The new program will eliminate the heartbreak of back-to-back deployments, giving soldiers and families more predictability.

"It's important to spend time with your families," said SSG Janine Osterberg of Fort Bragg. "The army splits the family up quite a bit, and it's important for them to be together to maintain family ties."

Along with many others, Osterberg just returned from a 7-month peace-keeping mission in Bosnia. The policy was developed while they were away. They say it was very good news to come home to.

"Especially when the children are really small and you're gone all the time, you come home and they look at mom and say 'who's that?'" said SFC Benjamin Warin. "That's probably one of the most important things about being back."

The policy actually began in February, but because soldiers are just now starting to return from long deployments, they're just beginning to realize the benefits of it.

Some soldiers say they fear the plan might not be completely realistic.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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