POSTED: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:29pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:33pm
Fort Bliss, TX (KTSM) — The Hearts Apart Support Program assists families that are separated from their military sponsor for more than 30 days because of deployments, permanent change of station moves, temporary duty assignments or remote tours of duty.
The program is available to family members at any U.S. military installation worldwide regardless of the military member’s service branch or place of duty. For example, if a Soldier deploys from here and their family members return home to Louisiana during the deployment, the family members can participate in the program at Barksdale Air Force Base.
Families are eligible to join Hearts Apart 30 days before their Soldier leaves home, and they can remain in the program 30 days after their Soldier returns. This gives Soldiers and their families the opportunity to attend events together before their deployment, meet other families facing similar hardships, realize what support is available during the deployment, and reintegrate with their families after the deployment, said Cher Poehlein, Army Community Services Relocation Readiness Program manager here.
“[Hearts Apart] gives you other people to get advice from and to share experiences with,” said Crystal Garcia, a military spouse coping with her husband’s first deployment. “Deployments are extremely hard, and it gives you somebody to lean on during this difficult time.”
She and her children have attended Hearts Apart trips to the El Paso Zoo and Western Playland, an amusement park. She said the trips and events give her children the opportunity to interact with other children who are also separated from a parent because of a deployment, and they give her the chance to make new friends and learn about Army life from other spouses.
One of the events Garcia regularly attends is the weekly coffee meetings, where she and a group of spouses have formed bonds that go beyond Hearts Apart. The coffee meetings are a venue for spouses to unwind and discuss any issues they may be having during their Soldier’s absence, like child care, finding a job, or dealing with the stresses of a deployment, said Poehlein.
“If a Soldier deploys and has a wife and three or four children, he may not be focused on the mission because in his head he’s wondering if his wife has friends and support back at home,” Poehlein said. “[Hearts Apart] gives Soldiers and their family members peace of mind because they know there are resources available during a deployment.”
For more information about Hearts Apart visit www.blissmwr.com/relocation  or call 569-4227.