FAMILY HEALTH ARTICLES
Viva's Story: Keeping up AppearancesDecember 18, 2015
Bringing a new baby into what is already a volatile home could mean a death sentence for
all involved. But, for Viva, her pregnancy
brought her life.
When she told C.L. about the pregnancy, his immediate response was for Viva to have an abortion. He soon
left for a three-month European trip funded by a wealthy
Family Member. As soon as he left, Viva called her mother who immediately came to spend time with her.
Three months went by quickly, and a few days after
Viva’s mother left, C.L. returned in the middle of the
“He came in and searched the house because he could
swear that I had somebody over at the house,” Viva said.
“Then he notices I’m [still] pregnant, and then he flips
Although C.L. was angry because Viva kept the baby,
he refrained from physically abusing her. Instead, he
continuously said mean words to her. He threw things,
punched more holes in the walls and abused their res-
cue dog, “Sweetest,” even more.
Pregnancy changed her. Viva said she became a
mother bear and started sticking up for herself. She said
she even told C.L. he could leave if he was not happy.
Viva said the three months C.L. was gone was much
needed because she began to realize who she was with-
out him in her life.
“I was just tired of trying to be perfect,” Viva said. “I
didn’t care anymore. It seems like when the roles
changed at that time, he was nicer to me. I was standing
up for myself, and he gave in to me a lot more when I
was being really tough about it.”
Now, out of the Army, Viva felt she really had no place
to turn. The fight, which brought the relationship to a
close, happened over the course of two days. This was
what Viva called 'the worst and last one.' As their child
lay asleep in bed, C.L. took Viva’s phone, read her text
messages and accused her of cheating. He then threatened to cut off her hair and hog-tie her with the zip ties
in his hand. Viva said C.L. punched her in the face, head
and body as she screamed and fought to get away. For
the next three and a half hours, Viva was physically
tortured to the point of being strangled until she passed
out. However, soon after beating her, Viva said C.L. began
to cry and begged for forgiveness.
“For the next two hours, C.L. begged me not to call
the police,” Viva said. “He made me promise that I
wouldn’t leave him and that I wouldn’t report this incident. He finally left to go to work. The next day, I went
to work and waited [until] my manager showed up and
then called my attorney who was able to fit me in right
Staff Sgt. Jones, a Soldier stationed here, said she had
no idea of the level of abuse her twin sister Viva was
going through over the years. Jones said C.L. did not
seem like a “bad guy” at first, but then something
changed. She said she noticed the verbal fights between
Viva and C.L early on, yet was not privy to the physical
abuse until May of this year. Jones was still deployed in
Afghanistan when she found out the details of the last
“I can’t believe that it was going on for so long,” Jones
tearfully said. “That’s my sweet, beautiful, twin sister
who is always so happy and so cheerful ... and to have
to go through that and to know that maybe she felt like
she deserved that—ever.”
Navy retiree, Dr. Skytina Felder-Jones, victim advocate
coordinator, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Army
Community Service, said when she learned of Viva’s
horrible abuse, Felder-Jones’ heart went out to her.
“My first thought on that was wow, nobody deserves
that, and how can someone be that cruel to a human
being, let alone your wife, let alone the mother of your
child,” Felder-Jones said.
Felder-Jones said there is help for women and men
in domestic violent relationships. She said because of
the shame or guilt a victim may feel, the key is to
approach them with compassion and in a non-offensive
“Victims shouldn’t stay quiet because the abuse will
not end,” Felder-Jones said. “The longer you stay in a
situation where there is abuse, the greater the chances
are of injury or the possibility of being killed.”
Felder-Jones said ACS has an “arsenal of tools,”
resources and advocates, who are ready and willing to
help. “And, if you make the first step, you don’t have to
make another step alone because there is an advocate
there with you every step of the way,” Felder-Jones said.
“I wish somebody else would have approached me,”
Viva said. “I wish my battle who knew everything, she
would have told on me. I wish my sergeants would have
come and done home inspections on me. I wish they
would have checked me when I went to the doctors,
when the doctors saw the bruises on my body. I wished
they would have asked what’s going on. I wished I would
have gone and sat before my commander and first sergeant. For them to ask me what’s going on and hopefully get me to the point of me breaking, and knowing
[I have] some help, and getting out of it sooner. I am so
lucky I am not dead right now.”
Today, after seven years of being in a domestic violent
relationship, Viva and her toddler escaped with their
life. She is no longer a victim, she is a survivor.
If you or someone you know, someone you love, is in
need of help escaping a domestic violent relationship,
please call the Fort Stewart Domestic Violence Hotline
at 912-767-3032 or Hunter Army Airfield at 912-315-
5343. The 24/7 cell phone number for the on-call person
for both bases is 912-532-3426 or call the National
Domestic Hotline at 800-799-7233.
---Kaytrina Curtis, Fort Stewart Public Affairs
Domestic Violence and the HolidaysDecember 2, 2015
Research studies indicate that domestic violence tends to spike during the holiday season due to a variety of factors, including:
* Increased financial pressures
* Increased alcohol and drug consumption
* Increased family pressures and conflict
* Increased contact with the abuser who may be on vacation for the holiday season
Individuals who are at an increased risk of domestic violence are encouraged to contact FS/HAAF Family Advocacy Program. Victim advocates are available seven days a week including after hours. These individuals are trained to specifically to keep victims safe and to help prevent further incidents of domestic violence. Potential victims should be armed with a safety plan. FAP assists Soldiers and Family members with creating a safety plan and other resources. Sample safety plans may also be found on the National Center on Domestic and Sexual violence website. The FS/HAAF Family Advocacy hotline numbers are: 912-767-3032 (FSGA) and 912-315-5343 (HAAF).
Do not suffer in silence. There are alternatives and resources available to end domestic violence.
Prince Charming…..December 2, 2015
Remembering back, I never thought it would be like this. I was a single parent of two; Janet, who was 18 months old and Tommy, who was 5 years old. I was independent, working and even had my own place. It was not perfect but it was not the horrific life I am in now. Where did it all go wrong?
I can remember when we first met; I will call him Prince Charming. I had gone out for the first time in years. I might have had a little too much to drink but he did not appear to be what he is now. Prince Charming had a nice smile and was very good looking, way out of my league. I never thought of myself as pretty but he made me feel like I was the only one in the bar. We exchanged numbers and talked the next day. We eventually went on several dates. He was my prince charming: he was good looking and had a good job. I really liked him and things seemed to be on the right track.
After a few months, I lost my job. Money was always a little tight but now it was even harder. Prince Charming offered to move in to help with the bills. At first, I said no but then I had no choice; it was either let him move in or get evicted. The bills started getting paid again but eventually Prince Charming kept complaining. He wanted me to contribute and started calling me worthless and saying I was good for nothing. I was applying for jobs but none led to anything more. It got to the point where I started to feel depressed, like I wasn’t worth anything. My friend Lucy said I just needed to get out, so we went out for lunch. I ended up getting home later than I anticipated, past our normal dinner time. Prince Charming was calling me every minute wanting to know where I was and who I was with. When I got home, I noticed he had been drinking. I tried to make dinner, but he smacked the dishes out of my hand. He was yelling and very upset because dinner was not ready when he got home from work. As I tried to pick up the broken dishes, he threw beer bottles on the floor and told me to clean those up as well. Prince Charming said that since I did not have dinner ready on time, that I brought this upon myself. My neighbor was on her way to bring the kids home and I did not want her to know what happened or for the kids to hurt themselves on the glass, so I cleaned it up. I tried my best to avoid Prince Charming the rest of the evening. Later after the kids went to sleep, he tried to kiss me. I did not want to kiss him but he grabbed by chin and made me turn my face back towards him. Then he began to rub on me and I pushed his hand away. Prince Charming grabbed my wrists very hard and held them. He said he could have me whenever he wants to, that I was his. I told him no and he slapped me so hard I feel on the bed. He proceeded to take what he wanted despite my cries and protests.
The next morning, I had bruises on my wrists and a bruise on my right cheek. I put extra makeup on that morning to try to hide the bruise on my face. Prince Charming was off today and was being extra nice. He apologized and said it was the alcohol that caused him to act that way. We went to lunch and had a good time. I figured I would give it another chance plus it was not like I had a lot of options since I still did not have a job. As the weeks passed, Prince Charming did not hit me again but he did continue with the emotional abuse. On a daily basis, I heard how worthless I was, that I was stupid, and that I could not do anything right. He was always yelling at me and putting me down. If Lucy called he would grab the phone and hang up on her. He told me he did not want me to be friends with Lucy. I continued to talk to Lucy but only did so when Prince Charming was not around. Lucy picked up on this but I kept making excuses. It got to the point where I felt I was walking on egg shells whenever Prince Charming was home.
Then one day when I was helping Tommy with his homework and he told me I was stupid. I was so shocked; I did not know what to say. I knew where he had learned it from and decided I needed to address it. I was very anxious the remainder of the day waiting for Prince Charming to come home from work but he was not home at his usual time. I called him several times but he did not answer. He finally came home and at the same time Lucy called me wanting to go out. Prince Charming started yelling, grabbed my cell phone and broke it. I began to cry and had a moment of courage so I yelled back at him, telling him that I was leaving. I instantly regretted it because the look in his eyes was that of an animal. He threw my phone at me but I ducked so it didn’t hit me but at the same time he charged at me. Prince Charming grabbed me by my arms, threw me against the wall and pinned me there. He was still yelling; his face was so close that I could feel the heat of his breath and smell the alcohol. Tommy came out of his room and was crying, asking Prince Charming to stop. Prince Charming yelled at Tommy causing him to run back to his room. Then suddenly Prince Charming punched the wall right next to my head causing a hole. He told me that if I ever yell at him again, it would be worse and if I ever left him he would kill me. That night he raped me again.
The next day I had bruises on my upper arms. He apologized and again blamed it on the alcohol. I don’t know why but I stayed. I did not have any money saved, my car was broke, I did not have a job, I had no family in the state and I had nowhere else to go. The physical and emotional abuse continued, almost as if on cycle. Things would be good, then he would get agitated easily and then he would hit me. Prince Charming always apologized afterwards and took me out to eat or bought me a gift.
Tommy started getting in trouble at school more, fighting and his grades started dropping. The school called one day asking how Tommy got the bruises on his arms. I did not know he had bruises on his arm. Tommy told his teacher that Prince Charming had grabbed him, causing the bruises. I sent took the kids to the neighbor’s to play so I could talk to Prince Charming. I tried but he became very angry because he felt I was accusing him and questioning his discipline methods. He had been drinking again, so I decided it was not a good time to try to talk about this, so I tried to walk away. Prince Charming grabbed my arm and yanked me back. He told me not to walk away from him while he was talking and hit me on mouth. Then he grabbed me by my neck and started choking me. I kicked him which caused him to let go of me and I tried to run for the door but he grabbed my hair and pulled me back causing me to fall. He proceeded to kick me. All I could do was curl up in the fetal position to try to protect myself. He kept kicking and yelling. Then all of a sudden the police were there and Prince Charming was being put in hand cuffs.
I ended up having two broken ribs, several stitches on my lip, a slight concussion and many bruises. My neighbor had came back to the house to get a diaper, heard the yelling and saw Prince Charming hit me in the face, so she had called the police. If she had not called the police, I don’t know if I would be here to tell my story today.
The police put me in contact with a Victim Advocate who took me and the kids to a shelter for battered women. The Victim Advocate helped me get a Protective Order against Prince Charming so he could not come around me and my kids. The Victim Advocate also helped me and the kids get in to counseling. We stayed at the shelter for about 4 months while we continued with the counseling. The shelter helped me find a job and get a new place. Prince Charming does not know where we live and I feel safe now. Tommy is doing a little better but it will take some time. I don’t think I could have re-established myself without the help of the Victim Advocate or the shelter.
One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. Most domestic violence incidents are never reported. Help change this by speaking up, speaking out, and making a difference for victims of domestic violence.
If you are the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, please call the Army Community Service Victim Advocacy Program at (Fort Stewart) 912-767-3032 or (Hunter Army Airfield) 912-315-5343. An advocate is available to you 24/7.
FAP offers classes on couple’s communication, parenting classes and much more. For more information on FAP and the classes offered, please call 912-767-2882 (FS) or 912-315-6816 (HAAF).
--- Installation Victim Advocate
Abusive WomenDecember 2, 2015
What’s the first image you think of when you hear of an incident of domestic violence? Do you think of a husband hitting his wife or a man hitting a woman? It is uncanny how times and things seem to change. As a victim advocate with several years of experience under my belt I take every opportunity to dispel myths. Outside the world of victim advocacy, many individuals never associate domestic violence with a woman being the offender! That’s right, the age-old stereotype of men being the abuser is no longer a reality. As a matter of fact historical data tells us that men have long been victims of domestic violence although not at the rate of women victims. Women can be abusers too! Men are also victims.
Most men will not report being abused. Male victims of family violence and abuse - like women - often face many barriers to disclosing their abuse:
* They are likely to be told that there must be something they did to provoke the perpetrator’s abuse.
* They can suffer shame, embarrassment and the social stigma of not being able to protect themselves.
* They can fear that if they disclose the abuse there will be nowhere for them and their children to escape to.
* In cases of intimate partner violence, men often fear that if they disclose the abuse or end the relationship, their partner might become more abusive and/or take the children.
* They can feel uncertain about where to seek help, or how to seek help.
* Services are less likely to ask whether a man is a victim of family violence, and when they do ask, they are less likely to believe him (indeed many health departments have mandatory domestic violence screening for young women, but no such screening for young men).
* Male victims can be falsely arrested and removed from their homes because of the assumption that because they are male, they must be a perpetrator and not a victim. When this happens, children can be left unprotected from the perpetrator of the violence, leading many men to suffer the abuse in silence in an attempt to protect their children.
* The word “victim” is troublesome to most men. Men do not want to be thought of or think of themselves in that way. Many men convince themselves that their silence proves that they can take it, that they are allowing the abuse to happen, not being victimized by it.
Because of these barriers, men are much less likely to report being a victim of family violence than are women (and women also frequently don’t report violence against them).
If we want to reduce the amount of violence in American homes, we need to take a hard look at our attitudes. Do not teach our children that the correct way to resolve problems is through hitting or any form of physical or emotional abuse. We should all learn healthy ways to settle problems. Abused men and violent women can be helped. If you are the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, please call Army Community Service Victim Advocacy Program at 912-767-3032 (Fort Stewart) or 912-315-5343 (Hunter Army Airfield). An advocate is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
--- By Lisa Crocker, Family Advocacy Program, Installation Victim Advocate
Social Security dilemma: Draw now or draw later?November 18, 2015
The federal government allows
retirees to start drawing Social
Security as early as age 62, a feature
that more than 40 percent of
Americans take advantage of as
they gladly draw from the system
they spent a lifetime paying into.
But many of those people may
be making a mistake, says Reid
Abedeen, a partner at Safeguard
Investment Advisory Group, LLC
"While you're allowed to start
drawing Social Security when you
are 62, your monthly benefit will
be reduced," Abedeen says.
"Although there might be personal reasons why someone needs to
apply early, for most people it's
probably better to wait at least
until their full retirement age."
Full retirement age is between
66 and 67 for most people in the
workforce right now. Wait until you
are 70, and the amount of your
monthly check goes up even more.
When it comes to Social Security,
though, there's a financial monkey
wrench that can complicate sorting out your plan. Social Security
rules can be complicated and even
your spouse's income and decisions can affect when the most
opportune time is for you to draw
"You really are
going to want to coordinate what you do
with what your spouse does, to
make sure you are getting the highest amount possible," Abedeen
Here are a few points to remember if you're considering claiming
your Social Security at 62:
Reduction of benefit. Depending
when your full retirement age is,
you would see about a 25 to 30 percent reduction in your benefit if
you retire at 62. On the other hand,
if you delay collecting past full
retirement age, you can increase
your benefit by eight percent a year
up until you are 70.
Life expectancy. One reason
many people opt to draw the
money early is they fear they will
die before they get a chance to
receive anything at all from Social
Security. After a lifetime of paying
into the system, they won't get a
penny out of it. They don't want to
feel cheated out of what they have
coming to them.
That's certainly a concern,
Abedeen says. But there's an even
greater concern than dying early,
and that's living too long. "Life
expectancies are growing, but
many people have not saved
enough to see them through a
retirement that could last two or
three decades or longer," he says.
"If you live a long life, it could be
crucial to you that the monthly
Social Security payment be as large
Continuing to work. You could
be in for a surprise if you plan to
continue working after you begin
drawing Social Security. If you
haven't waited until your full
retirement age, there's a limit on
how much you can make. In 2015,
that limit is $15,720, according to
the Social Security Administration.
If you go over that, you would be
deducted $1 in benefits for every
$2 you earn over the limits. (That
changes in the year you reach full
retirement age, and beginning with
the month you are at full retirement age there is no limit on your
--- Special to the Frontline
Learn more about Foreign-born Spouse ProgramOctober 21, 2015
Army Community Service has always been a staple in
the lives of our military, supporting both Soldiers and
Family Members during their time of need.
As we embark on the middle of the PCS season, emotions and stress are high for all, especially for our foreign-
born spouses. Whether you are looking for information
on English as Second Language classes or help reviewing
your citizenship paperwork, the ACS Relocation
Readiness Program is
here to help you.
As a foreign-born spouse, you may have questions and
concerns on adapting to the American culture, to include
the military lifestyle. You may not know who to turn to
for answers or guidance. Attend one of our Foreign-born
Spouse Program meetings and join other foreign-born
spouses from various cultures and countries to network,
share experiences, develop
friendships and learn
about the many resources
that are available to you
through information and referral.
The Foreign-born Spouse Program meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 10 a.m. in Fort Stewart
ACS, building 86.
Please give us a call at 912-767-5058 if you have any questions. We look forward to meeting you all.
Have spending plan when holiday shopping October 7, 2015
It’s that time of year again when we step into the world
of holiday spirit, and start venturing out with our
Christmas checklist. Many are just finalizing last years’
holiday debt, only to fall right back into the same revolving debt trap again for another year. As the economy
continues to change, so will the value of the dollar.
Having a spending plan and reviewing your current
financial situation will paint a broader picture of how
much you can actually afford to spend without going
Simply ask yourself, can I afford to make additional
monthly payments on a new debt or perhaps an increase
in my current debts? Do I have enough saved or available
cash flow to make my holiday purchases without using
a credit card?
If the answer is “no,” it is truly time to reevaluate how
you will spend for the holidays. By creating a list of good
intentions, you can now start to prioritize and figure out
what is important to you.
Take the time to check your list and set a spending
limit without adjusting it to suit another’s needs or wants.
By doing so, you will more than likely find yourself doing
it for everyone out of guilt or the feeling of obligation.
Most importantly, there is no written rule that a gift
has to be of monetary value. These gifts are not only
priceless, they cannot be replaced and normally mean
the most. Search the internet for gift ideas, there are
hundreds of them available. For instance, homemade
crafts, cookie mix in a jar, a holiday family photo, a personalized coupon for an evening of babysitting, just let
your imagination run wild with great gift giving ideas.
Keep in mind that every year the toy makers seem to
get smarter and smarter, creating awesome jaw-dropping
gadgets and let’s not forget the latest video craze, “Oops”
did I forget the newest electronic device that does everything? Of course not; yes, it’s out there but we have to
snap back into reality and start planning early. Some of
the local retail stores have begun their Christmas Lay-a-
ways, using them will cut down on spending large
amounts of money at one time.
Our local Exchange will began holiday lay-a-ways now
until Dec. 24. The service fee will also be waived during
this time with the exception of electronics (see store
To top it off, there are no taxes when shopping at the
Exchange. With laying away items, this allows the leverage of making small payments over the next few months
as well as not worrying about where to hide or store these
great gifts. Also, do not forget to use store coupons as
well as comparison shop and always ask about the store’s
return and refund policy on seasonal items. The one
question that I love to ask when I’m making a purchase
is, “Does your store offer military discounts? The least I
can be told is “no.” If, on the other hand, the answer is
“yes,” this makes for even sweeter savings. There are
many ways to beat the stressors of holiday spending and
saving just a little at a time throughout the year is a great
way to start. This can also avoid the use of that much-
relied upon “plastic money.”
Many local financial institutions offer saving clubs that
allow you to save for the holidays at your own pace.
Christmas holidays are a great time to enjoy spending
time with Family and friends but please always apply
safety and safeguard your identity, credit/debit cards,
checkbook, Social Security Number and birth information.
Be very careful of scams offered over the telephone,
never provide your personal information to anyone over
the phone and use caution when dealing with door-to-
door sales that seem too good to be true, they normally
are. Pay very close attention to your banking and billing
statements for unauthorized charges and immediately
notify your banking institution should you lose or misplace your bank card.
Army Community Service Financial Readiness offers
several classes monthly to assist Soldiers, Family Members
and retirees to get their finances on track not just for the
holidays but every day.
We are also available to provide training to units and
Family Readiness Groups. For confidential financial
counseling, please call 912-767-5058/5059.
--- Renee McClinton,
ACS Financial Readiness Specialist
7 ways fathers can bond with new babySeptember 28, 2015
Parents are often advised to bond with their infant.
For mothers, that seems to be an easier task as they
are usually the parent who feeds the baby by bottle
or breast every two-to-three hours after birth. But,
what about the father? How does he connect with his
child when the mother is so involved in the initial
care of the baby?
According to the book
“Father Need: Why Father
Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child,”
bonding is the emotional and physical connection
between two human beings. It occurs usually immediately after the birth of your baby. However, the father
is frequently an outsider following the birth. Fathers
can take a more active role in their child’s birth by
having the baby placed in their arms following the
birth. Skin-to-skin contact can help to increase the
bonding experience. Regardless of the circumstance,
dads step up and hold your baby after birth, let the
baby hear your voice, and feel your touch.
Here are seven ways fathers can bond with their
1. Hold the baby between feedings, change diapers,
touch the baby’s hands, and give the baby a sponge
bath. Remember that you have waited for months for
this little baby to appear, and now you want to get to
know him or her.
2. Put the baby in a baby carrier and walk around
the neighborhood or in the house with him on your
chest. Although infants cannot see well at birth,
their sense of smell is especially accurate, and you
want your baby to recognize your smell as a caregiver.
3. Over the next few weeks, a baby can see clearly
at about six-to-10 inches away, so hold them close,
and talk to them. Let them see your face, and hear
your voice. It is these first opportunities which promote that attachment with our children. Babies are
recording our voices and faces in their memory.
Babies also will start to respond to a parent’s voice
and touch; this is demonstrated by the baby quieting
when a parent talks to him or start to wiggle, or move
arms at the sound of parental voices. An infant can
tell the difference between mother and father’s voice
by six weeks of age and recognize their care giving
differences as well.
4. When you first arrive home from work or school,
greet your baby, and spend a few minutes holding or
talking to them. Babies do not care about the topic
of conversation (the words), they just enjoy the sound
or tone of your voice.
5. Your helping with the baby upon returning home
improves your partner relationship. The baby has
been with its mother for most of the day, and mom
could use a time out when you get home. After all,
the baby has been her priority during the day; maybe
she would like to bathe or take a nap before the evening routine. A few minutes now will go a long way
to demonstrate that you are an invested parent and
value her efforts as a mother.
6. Feed the baby by bottle or take the baby immediately after the feeding. (After six weeks of birth, it
is generally safe to feed breast milk by bottle). Let
your partner have some free time away from the
house, to get her hair styled, a pedicure or go visit a
friend. This time away is healthy to reduce stress and
7. For playtime place the baby on the floor, on a
mat, wiggle his legs and arms and put colorful toys
in front of the baby’s face. These play times help
with bonding and improving baby’s spatial and
language development. Fathers are just as important as mothers in bonding with their children, so
make the effort.
As your baby ages, you will have more opportunities to play with your baby. By two months of age,
your baby’s personality is emerging, and he enjoys
cooing, laughing and smiling.
For additional information on parenting topics or
classes, contact Family Advocacy Program, Army
Community Service, at 912-767-2882 for Fort Stewart
or 912-315-6816 for Hunter Army Airfield.
---Cheri Jones, Army Community Service
Army Emergency Relief gives junior Soldiers direct accessSeptember 21, 2015
Army Emergency Relief, or AER,
has just made it easier for junior Soldiers to request
interest-free loans and grants.
Effective Sept. 9, many junior Soldiers will be able
to apply for emergency financial assistance without
involving their chain of command.
The new policy pertains to privates through corporals and specialists, who have completed Initial Entry
Training and have a minimum of 12 months service
or have completed Advanced Individual Training -
whichever comes first. They will no longer be required
to request an AER loan or grant by going through their
chain of command.
Charles Durr, who serves as assistance chief for AER,
said the change was brought on because AER feels that
first year of service is essential in establishing trust
between leader and a service members, and it's a kind
of integration period where good financial fitness is
Another reason for the policy shift is because AER
has seen about a 35-percent decline over the last six
years in the number of active-duty Soldiers seeking
assistance, Durr said.
During calendar year 2014, AER had 35,000 requests
for assistance and disbursed nearly $46 million to help
active-duty Soldiers set up homes, repair autos and
take care of expenditures that were unforeseen, he
"We attributed the decline in asking for help to what
was an intimidating, time-consuming process in that
Soldiers would have to go to the squad leader, the
squad leader to the platoon sergeant, the platoon sergeant to the first sergeant and so on," Durr said. "We
think our Soldiers deserve to be afforded a streamlined
process for resolving any of their short-term financial
Durr said that no-interest loan requests and grants
were down for fear of a perceived stigma that's associated with asking for help and
being labeled as "bad Soldiers"
because they had financial issues.
Some Soldiers felt their need for
financial help would threaten
future promotion and selection
for leadership positions or that
they might lose their security
Direct access to AER has been
gradual. In 2013, sergeants first
class were given direct access to
AER without going through their
chain of command. After a further worldwide assessment, Jan.
1, 2014, AER extended direct
access to sergeants and above, so
it's been an incremental change
over time, Durr said.
The retired command sergeant
major said when Soldiers had to
move through the laborious and
embarrassing process of the chain of command, they
would seek out alternatives like payday lenders for
emergency financial assistance. Then they'd be stuck
with high-interest loans.
Ways in which AER has assisted Soldiers and their
Families in the past include initial deposits for utilities
needed for establishing a new household, Durr said.
He added that AER can also assist with the purchase
of washers, dryers, beds and other furniture instead
"We can help with auto replacement, when it's not
financially sound for a Soldier to continue to dump
money into auto repairs that cost more than a vehicle
is worth," he said.
In mid-July, AER opened a new category of assistance - minor home repair for those Soldiers, who
choose to buy homes rather than rent. This new category is designed to cover repairs on interior, exterior
wiring and the like which aren't covered by basic
"We have a significant investment portfolio - so
we're postured for disasters, payless paydays, things
of that nature ... and this is the Soldiers' fund, so they
should be able to draw from it as needed," Durr said.
"We continue to look for ways to meet the emergency
financial needs of our Soldiers and their Families, so
we have to be an organization that evolves as the Army
AER was established in 1942 with $1.5 million in
seed money from the American Red Cross and $12
million from Irving Berlin's musical, "This is the Army."
It was incorporated as a non-profit organization to
meet the emergency financial needs of a rapidly
The secretary of war and the Army chief of staff
established AER on Feb. 5, 1942, in Washington, D.C.
AER was placed under the Army service commands
with more than 600 sections worldwide at the height
of World War II.
--- J.D. Leipold, Army News Service
Surviving first trimester tips, tricksSeptember 14, 2015
According to the book “The Pregnancy,
Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete
Guide,” the first trimester lasts 12 weeks. It
is also known as the “formation” period.
By the end of it, all of your baby’s organ systems
are formed and functioning. For mom, the first trimester is also a time of physical and emotional
adjustment to being pregnant.
During the first trimester, you may feel unusually tired and need more sleep. This is because of
your changing metabolic rate and your increased
energy needs while growing a baby.
It is important to rest when able, eat healthy foods,
drink plenty of water and reduce stress. Exercising
regularly can decrease stress, promote sleep and
improve your health during pregnancy. Most women
experience nausea and vomiting during these early
months of pregnancy. Even though it is called morning sickness, these symptoms can occur any time
throughout the day.
There are many non-medicinal ways to cope with
morning sickness. These include eating several small
meals a day to prevent an empty stomach. It keeps
your blood sugar level, drink fluids between meals
and during meals, keep bland food by your bed and
eat some before getting up. Identify and avoid odors
that make nausea worse. Increase intake of foods
rich in Vitamin B6.
Lastly, trust your food preferences. If it sounds
good to eat, you will probably tolerate it. You may
also begin to experience mood swings during the
first trimester such as crying easily or reacting
strongly to minor inconveniences. This may be difficult for you and your partner to understand, so it
is important to talk with your partner and share your
feelings. This will enable you to work through this
transition together. Also, as earlier mentioned in the
article, keeping stress levels low and getting adequate sleep can help decrease severity of mood
Few women go
occasional emotional stress. In the short term, the
stress does not cause harm and can be beneficial by
providing a boost of energy or motivation. In the
long term, chronic stress can increase chances of
preterm labor or low birth weight.
Research has even shown chronic stress during
pregnancy can increase chances of the child developing ADHD, anxiety disorders and language delays.
There are multiple ways to cope with stress. These
include identifying the source of your stress and
eliminate it if possible, learn ways to cope with
stressful conditions. If eliminating the source is not
possible, be sure to get enough sleep, regular exercise, nurture yourself by doing somethings you enjoy,
and utilize supports (Family, friends, community
For more information on tips for surviving your
first trimester, please contact your Fort Stewart New
Parent Support Program at 912-767-2882 or Hunter
Army Air Field at 912-315-6816.
--- Julie Albert, LCSW, NPSP;
Army Community Service
15 different ways for Family funAugust 18, 2015
The military community is facing continued deployments, downsizing of military personnel and economic decline. With these things in mind, it is important
that we find sources of activities for our children that
foster quality Family time.
The following is a list of quality time activities for
parents and children, which were taken from the article “78 Parent Child Activities.” These activities are
appropriate for all age groups:
1) Fun with Cleaning
–Decide to clean windows,
dusting or just tidying up. Parents can make this more
interesting or engaging by adding incentives such as
music, prizes and finding money when tidying up.
– even young kids like to help with the
mixing or pouring the ingredients. Take pictures of your
Make a pizza from scratch.
Make soup from scratch
– have the kids help with
washing the vegetables.
– grab pillows, sheets and set up a tent
in the living room.
Visit a public library.
Go to the park.
Go to the beach.
Play catch with little kids.
You can start with catching stuffed animals and then graduate to an actual ball.
such as jumping jacks, jump-
rope, hopscotch, etc.
Play card games
like “Go Fish” or “Concentration.”
Coloring can be fun
with both crayons and magic
Write a story
using a combination of paper, pens,
crayons, photos, collage to write the story.
Plant some flowers
, vegetables or herbs, empty
egg carton scan be used to start the garden.
Have a Limbo Dance
These are just a few ways parents can engage in
Family fun with their children. More age-specific fun
activities for parents and children can be found at
. As mentioned above with hectic
work schedules, changes in the state of the national
economy, constant changes in the Family and numerous deployments, it is important that we spend quality time with our Families. These activities can also be
great for Family gatherings that include distant relatives.
If you have any further questions about how to spend
quality time with your children, please feel free to contact the Family Advocacy Program at 912-767-2882 for
Fort Stewart or 912-315-6816 for Hunter Army Airfield.
Family Advocacy Program specialist
Army entomologists release video on controlling mosquitoes in and around the homeAugust 10, 2015
Summer is officially here and many individuals are
spending more time outdoors. Being outdoors increases one's risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Not only
do mosquito bites make outdoor activities unpleasant,
their bites can transmit diseases to people and domes-
tic animals. In the United States, mosquitoes can
spread West Nile fever, dengue, chikungunya and several other debilitating diseases. Mosquitoes are also
responsible for transmitting heartworm in dogs.
To better educate Army personnel on what they can
do to protect against mosquito-borne disease, the
Entomology Program of the Army Institute of Public
Health has released a video on controlling mosquitoes
in and around the home. The video can be reviewed
All mosquitoes have one common requirement-
-they need water to complete their life cycle.
"Mosquitoes grow in almost any source of water,
including fresh water (even if heavily polluted), salt-
water marshes, brackish water and sewage. Mosquitoes
can live in the water in tin cans, bird baths, barrels,
ornamental ponds, boats, canoes, discarded tires,
plant pots, clogged gutters and poorly-maintained
swimming pools," said Tom Burroughs, entomology
program manager at the AIPH.
Army entomologists say there are steps one can
take around the home to decrease mosquito breeding
and basic personal protective measures that can
reduce one's chances of being bitten. According to
the video, controlling mosquitoes in and around the
home can be accomplished by reducing larval and
adult populations and avoiding contact with mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also bite indoors, so individuals
need to prevent mosquitoes from gaining entry into
living and sleeping quarters and eliminate those that
might already be there.
Entomologists want individuals to keep in mind
that adult mosquitoes can fly several miles from the
water source where they developed. Therefore,
attempts at controlling mosquitoes on certain premises may not eliminate all biting activity.
A community-wide effort may be needed to reduce
mosquito levels, according to AIPH personnel.
"This will require the cooperation of neighboring
homeowners, home-owners associations, and local
government agencies to reduce adult populations and
breeding sites," said
Entomologist, U.S. Army Public Health Command
How to keep our children safe during the summerJune 9, 2015
We are moving rather rapidly into the summer months and we must consider the safety of our military members and their Families. It is the time when many of our Soldiers will be returning from deployments; children are out of school on summer break; Families are preparing for PCS moves; and many Families will be vacationing or attending Family reunions. Warm weather tends to present a greater opportunity for Families to enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, biking and hiking. Summer is the time that children see as a time to relax, unwind and just have some fun. It does not matter whether we have young children or teens, it is important that as parents and grandparents or guardians that we help keep our children safe and healthy especially during the summer. With all of the events identified, it is important that our military Families take some time and discuss summer safety. Parents, when discussing summer safety with their children, should focus their discussions on not just making this a time of fun, but a safe time to be enjoyed by all.
An area of summer safety to focus on is helping our children to exercise extreme safety around water. Swimming and various water related activities are viewed as outstanding ways to get much needed physical activity and the health benefits from these activities support a healthy life. According to the Center for Disease Control swimming has been identified as one of the most popular recreational activities for both young children and teens in the United States. It is important to keep children safe in the water, from waterborn illnesses and to protect our children from germs often lurking in pools. Some simple things to do in order to prevent recreational water illnesses include keeping poop, germs, and urine out of the water. Parents should take young children on bathroom breaks. With infants and toddlers, parents should conduct diaper checks about every 30-60 minutes.
Another area of water safety to consider is that of drowning. Drowning has been identified as being responsible for the deaths of children ages 1-4. The following are a few safety tips that parents should observe In order to avoid drowning:
• Always supervise children when they are either in the water or around areas where there is water.
• Children should be taught how to swim. Formal swimming lessons can prove to be invaluable when it comes to protecting young children from drowning.
• It is important for parents and adults who supervise young children to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation. These skills could save a child’s life.
• A four-sided fence should be installed around home pools. Those fenced areas should have closing and self-latching gates that open outward and those latches should be out of reach for children.
It is so important that we keep our children safe during what poses to be a long hot summer. If you need any further information about summer safety for children do not hesitate to contact the Family Advocacy Program at Fort Stewart or Hunter Army Airfield. The number for the Fort Stewart Family Advocacy Program is 912 767-2882 and the Hunter Army Airfield number is 912 315-6816. It is the intent of the author of this article to offer a series of summer safety articles with a focus on injuries caused by too much exposure to the sun and how to beat the heat.
---Deborah Riley, Family Advocacy Program Specialist
Male military spouses do much more than mow lawnsJune 4, 2015
"We can do more
than change light bulbs and mow
lawns," said Dave Etter.
Etter is a part of a small group in the
military community -- the male military spouse. According to a 2013 Office
of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense report, males made up 7.3
percent of the active-duty spouse
Male spouses have voiced their concerns about what it is like to be in the
A Navy veteran himself, Etter is no
stranger to military life. He now
proudly wears the spouse title and
uses his knowledge to help others
adapt to the Army.
At Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he volunteered to be the Family Readiness
Group leader for the 1st Special Troops
Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team,
101st Airborne Division.
"I was accepted with open arms,"
Now living near Joint Base San
Antonio, Texas, with his wife, Spc.
Stephanie Etter, a respiratory technician training at San Antonio Military
Medical Center, he found his niche
through volunteering in Army
Community Service programs. He is
currently an Army Family Team
Building instructor and a Master
"As an AFTB instructor, I teach
basic military concepts to Family
members and Department of Defense
Civilians," he said. "As a MRT, I
instruct students on how to arm themselves with techniques and tools to
combat catastrophic events that
would otherwise result in post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide or harm
Outside of volunteer work, Etter
engages with other spouses through
social events. He sometimes finds
himself as one of the few, if not only,
male spouses at those functions.
This is a feeling shared by other
male military spouses.
"I often find that I am the only male
at a lot of events," said Duwayne
Jones. "It is okay though, because we
have an awesome team of spouses at
all levels throughout the command
who make you feel welcomed and part
of the team."
Jones, another veteran, is married
to Cpt. Kiana L. Jones, of 526th Brigade
Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
Jones is the co-leader for the Family
Readiness Group. He says that his role
ranges from providing information to
assisting group members.
"I act as a sounding board and reassure them as needed regarding field
training, exercises, deployments,
Family concerns or even day-to-day
life challenges," he said.
"The group is an extended Family,
and we help each other through our
His wife deploys from time to time
so Jones deals with challenging the
traditional gender Family roles. He,
however, sees these situations as an
opportunity for the Family to grow.
"Our Family structure is stronger
because of it," he said.
Both Etter and Jones encourage
other male military spouses to participate in FRG meetings, uses on-post
resources like ACS and even seek out
online communities devoted to them.
"Help is out there," said Etter. "Even
if you just want to chat with another
male military spouse!”
Jessica Marie Ryan, FMWRC, SAN ANTONIO
Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2015May 15, 2015
The weather is heating up and Memorial Day weekend is a perfect time for taking a dip in the pool. Before you slip into your swim trunks and slather on your sunscreen, take a few minutes to consider how you and your family will stay safe throughout the summer.
The week before Memorial Day (May 18 – 24, 2015) is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. The goal of this week is to maximize the health benefits of swimming by promoting healthy and safe swimming. This year marks the 11th annual anniversary of this observance and participating agencies are encouraging swimmers to take an active role in protecting themselves from illness and injury.
One of the most serious water-related injuries is drowning. Every single day in the United States, two children under the age of 14 drown, making it the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four. Many Americans are also injured by mishandling pool chemicals, causing 3,000 – 5,000 visits to the Emergency Department each year. Additionally, children and adults who spend time in any body of water are at risk for coming in contact with bacteria, or germs, that can cause serious gastrointestinal, skin, eye, or respiratory illnesses.
We each play a role in preventing injuries, such as drowning or chemical exposure, and illnesses caused by germs in the places we swim. Fortunately, there are many steps we can all take to make sure everyone has a safe, healthy swimming experience. Here are just a few:
• Make sure you and your family members know how to swim.
• Use life jackets appropriately.
• Constantly monitor children when they are in the water.
• If you own a pool, make sure children can’t jump or fall in when you aren’t around by installing a fence, pool alarms, or a weight-bearing pool cover.
• Read and follow all directions on pool chemical product labels, always wear protective equipment when handling chemicals, and never mix chemicals.
• Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
• Never use the restroom in the pool.
• Never swallow pool water.
• Always take children for a restroom break every 60 minutes and check diapers every 30 – 60 minutes.
By following these easy tips, you can keep yourself, your family, and your community safer and healthier during Memorial Day Weekend and all the fun-filled weekends to come.
For more information on healthy and safe swimming, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
--- Melissa Reams, Division Health Promotion
What do you think parents should do to make their military child feel special?April 8, 2015
Every April the Department of Defense celebrates the Month of the Military Child. During this month, the DOD recognizes the support of and sacrifices made by, military children across all services. From deployments to frequent moves, military children face unique challenges that most youth their age do not experience.
You may be wondering how and when this celebration came to be. When I researched this topic, I certainly was. It was then I found out that in an effort to recognize and applaud the courage of military children, the Department of Defense, in 1986, deemed April as Month of the Military Child.
Rather than tell you about my personal experience and opinion as a parent, I decided to highlight what I think is an awesome story of last year’s Army Military Child of the Year Kenzie Hall.
Kenzie Hall knows the stress military kids feel when a parent deploys to a combat zone. She also knows what it is like to experience constant change. Kenzie has moved more than 10 times, and at one point, she attended three schools in one year.
With the help of her mother, Aerica, she formed "Brat Pack 11," a foundation dedicated to supporting the children of military heroes by granting wishes to the children of wounded or Fallen Soldiers. Her compassion and tireless effort earned her a nomination and she was selected as the Army Military Child of the Year.
In an age where many would answer the above question with a desire of their own, this extraordinary girl thought about what she could do for others.
Dena Yllescas-Johnston, whose husband Capt. Robert Yllescas died in 2008 from wounds he received in Afghanistan, recommended Kenzie to the MCOY selection committee. Yllescas-Johnston's daughters were the first recipients to have their dream come true from Kenzie’s foundation, which reached out to Yllescas-Johnston to see what the foundation could do for her two little girls.
“Our girls wanted to go to Disneyland,” said Yllescas-Johnston. “Kenzie made this dream come true. She was only 11 years old at the time.”
All I can say is that I hope more military children respond the way Kenzie did when confronted with the challenge of being a military “brat”.
For more information on this amazing girl and her foundation please visit
---Sgt. William Begley, 3rd CAB Public Affairs
Taking care of self to take care of othersMarch 6, 2015
At any given moment, a Soldier travels in three circles — the Unit Life Cycle, the Soldier Life Cycle, and the Family Life Cycle—as part of the Army’s Composite Life Cycle Model. The CLCM offers a holistic look at how a Soldier’s life may be affected by various transitions—promotions, re-enlistments, deployments, and Family issues—many of which may happen at the same time.
In the 188th Infantry Brigade, a training brigade responsible for advising and assisting National Guard and Reserve Soldiers across the United States with training, the ULC spins rapidly and unceasingly, while the other two cycles fluctuate with changing circumstances. This inconsistency can burden even the most seasoned Soldiers with unnecessary stress. The Army seeks to provide as many tools as possible to ease the burden and help Soldiers remain focused on the mission.
“How would you react if you got a phone call and the person on the other end said, ‘Dad had a stroke’,” asked Dr. Lois Ricci, American Association of Retired Persons volunteer. She provided the brigade with a class on the role of being a caregiver for aging parents.
In addition to taking care of Soldiers as part of the ULC, Service members also have to think about their parents and other Family Members who are getting older.
According the United States Census Bureau, 1 in 5 Americans will be 60 years of age or older by 2015; by 2030, the senior population is expected to increase by 71 percent, to 2.1 million from 1.2 million in 2000.
“This seminar provided me with great insight on how to begin the conversation between my father and sister in providing for his well-being,” said Sgt. 1st Class Byron Horne, Army Guard Reserve S1 non-commissioned officer in charge, 188th Infantry Brigade. He has a father who is leaning on him to provide care and was not aware of all the resources that were available to help him in his journey.
“It’s not a comfortable topic, but it is something that has to be talked about,” said Karen Duncan, an intern with AmeriCorps, the stateside version of the Peace Corps. She said that Soldiers are taught to be resilient, but when it comes to care giving, it is important for Soldiers to know their capabilities and their capacities.
“It is okay to tell a person that you are not able to do something. Not everything goes according to plan; care giving is anything but controlled.”
This may be a challenge for Soldiers who are told to lead and take charge to get the mission done.
“I learned that I cannot have the “take charge” mindset. I have to be cognizant of the other person, who is still capable of being independent. I have to step back and make sure the care plan is still their plan,” said Horne.
Families also have the task of being caregivers, taking on the care of veterans who may have returned from deployment with serious injuries. A study on military caregivers conducted last year cited that there are 5.5 million military caregivers, and 20 percent of those are caring for someone who has served since Sept. 11, 2001.
“We have caregivers who are out there barely treading water because they feel isolated. It is important for them to step back and go to someone who may know the answers,” said Duncan. There are several resources online and on Fort Stewart to assist those who provide care. Among them are: VA Caregiver Support and Wounded + Caregivers and the Soldier and Family Assistance Center next to the Warrior Transition campus. However, providing care is not always about the other person.
“You also have to take care of yourself. You must take care of yourself because even though your parents are aging, you are aging, also,” Ricci said.
“I also need to start thinking about my long term care, because I may be in the same situation my father is in,” Horne said.
The three cycles Soldiers circumnavigate during the course of their career may be a challenge to remaining resilient; however, it is important to remember that there are resources available to keep them from treading water.
“There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It takes a strong person to know when to ask for help,” Ricci said.
---SFC Stephanie Widemond, 188th IB Public Affairs
Sound off in the 2015 Community Needs Assessment SurveyFebruary 13, 2015
The 2015 Community Needs Assessment Survey, located
here, is now open and will be accepting responses through the end of March. All members of the community, including Soldiers, Family Members, DA Civilians, Retirees, and Contractors are encouraged to take the survey. “This survey allows us to get an idea of what our community members think of Fort Stewart and Hunter, as well as ways we can improve”, says Ms. Sarah Lopez, Division Health Promotion Officer.
In its fourth year, this survey has played a role in shaping where resources should be focused on and what programs and services should be expanded or revamped. Although there are many ways to provide feedback across the installation, this survey allows respondants to weigh in on issues that aren’t normally addressed, such as top community health problems and barriers to accessing needed resources.
The CNAS is administered through Public Health Command but all results are compiled locally by the Division Health Promotion staff and are presented to the Senior Commander, Garrison Commander, Brigade Commanders, and agency representatives in the Community Health Promotion Council. For more information about the Community Needs Assessment Survey, please call Division Health Promotion at 435-9959 or 435-0875.
--- Melissa Reams, Division Health Promotion
Will you be my valentine….?January 28, 2015
Will you love me forever? Will you be there when the going gets tough? Will you stay with me? Do you still love me? Such are some of the thoughts behind the simple, “Valentine, Will you be Mine?”. Let’s face it, we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. But due to life’s circumstances, we and our relationships are always changing.
The truth is, relationships take time and commitment and go through many challenging times. Getting stuck at various times in a relationship is common. So here are a few suggestions for success:
* Your relationship must be based on a solid underlying friendship. Friends talk, laugh, share, and do things they are interested in together. Don’t stop being friends just because you’re married.
* Your relationship has to meet the needs of the two people involved. Understand what your partner’s needs are so you can meet them. Figure out what your own needs are and communicate them. If your needs are not being met, communicate and negotiate. Don’t let resentment build.
* You don’t fix things by fixing your partner.
* Forget about being right or wrong. Focus on figuring out if what you’re doing is working or not working.
Want to learn more, fine tune a good relationship, or get your relationship back on track? Check out the ACS class schedule for
and call ACS for more information about the classes that would help you out the most [912-767-5058 (FS); 912-315-6816 (HAAF)]. Falling in love is easy…Staying in love is an art.
--- Johnny Cusimano, Family Advocacy Program
Guide to Understanding ROTC ProgramsJanuary 20, 2015
You may hear people allude to the ROTC while in high school or when entering college, but if you’re unfamiliar with the program, you’ll probably glean very little about what the ROTC actually is. The acronym stands for “Reserve Officers’ Training Corps,” and its goal is to train college students for future service in branches of the U.S. military; the Army, Air Force, and Navy each have their own ROTC programs. Students interested in U.S. Armed Forces service at an early age can also gain exposure to the rigors of military training through JROTC (Junior ROTC) programs offered at the high school level.
To learn more about ROTC and figure out if it's right for you, visit Best Colleges