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Soldiers’ families to receive information and advice

Soldiers’ families to receive information and advice

In this file photo, Sophie Render photographs her brother Spc. Jessie Miller (center) with Deborah Hester, a family friend; Rose Williams, his aunt; Jerry Render, his brother and Barnell Wilhite, h...

POSTED July 10, 2009 9:07 p.m.

Having a family member deployed overseas can be stressful and frightening, but the Modesto/Central Valley Blue Star Mothers and Families and the American Red Cross are hoping to lessen those fears with information.

The Modesto Blue Star Mothers and Families and the Stanislaus County Chapter of the American Red Cross will host a Soldier’s Family Survival Workshop to help prepare families for the pre-deployment, deployment, homecoming, and post-deployment of their soldiers.

The July 25 workshop will focus on practical knowledge that families should know before a loved one is deployed. The session will include information on how to insure that the deployed soldier makes a will and declares power of attorney before he or she leaves the united states, for example. There will also be information on how to obtain a passport in case a family member ever needs to visit their soldier in case of an emergency.

There will also be service providers at the workshop giving information on everything from sending a package to a soldier to dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome. Debbie Katsounakis, president of the Modesto/Central Valley Blue Star Mothers and Families, said that when her son was deployed she did not know much of this information.

“I had no idea, for example, that mailing a package is faster than mailing a letter,” Katsounakis said.

The Modesto Blue Star Mothers and Families teamed up with the Red Cross on this workshop because they wanted to share information that could help other families through a difficult time. Katsounakis said that the workshop is really the combined knowledge of all members who have had loved ones deployed over the years.

The American Red Cross Stanislaus County Chapter is funding the workshop through a grant they received to help local military families. The Service to Armed Forces Support Services grant allows Red Cross chapters to decide how money could best be spent on armed forces families in their area.  

Rebecca Ciszek, executive director of the Red Cross Stanislaus County Chapter,  said that she requested money for several projects that will benefit Stanislaus County. The Red Cross teamed up with Modesto Blue Star Mothers and Families for a Soldier’s Family Survival workshop on April 25. Ciszek said that the workshop was such a success that they decided to host it again in July. The Red Cross will also use the grant money to provide free CPR and first aide classes to military family members.

“The whole goal of this is to help people to be really prepared,” Ciszek said.

The three-hour Soldier’s Family Survival Workshop will start at 10 a.m. on July 25 at California State University, Stanislaus, in the Mary Stuart Rogers building room 130. Ciszek said that there will be enough informational packets for 200 people, and there will be a free lunch provided to all attendees. Participants can register for the free workshop by calling 410-2467 before July 22.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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