Fort Bliss support group helps spouses during deployments
Having a loved one get deployed can be a stressful, scary time.
A program at Fort Bliss — the Hearts Apart Empowerment Group — supports military spouses whose partners are deployed or geographically separated for at least 30 days because of training, attending Army schools or unaccompanied tours in places like South Korea.
“We’re here to build a support system,” said Kimberly Gold, the program’s coordinator.
Hearts Apart provides activities to keep its participants busy during an often lonely time. It also brings military spouses together to deal with the burden of separation, Gold said.
“A lot of military spouses get to Fort Bliss, get a little bit adjusted and then their soldier deploys,” Gold said.
Whether it’s a first deployment or a fifth, each deployment has its own set of challenges, Gold said. Hearts Apart seeks to provide participants with the resources to “conquer” those challenges, she said.
“Until you’ve been through a deployment, you don’t know what it’s really like,” Gold said. “That’s why it’s important for these family members to come together with others who understand what they are going through.”
The program holds weekly Coffee Morning events at the Army Community Service building, 2494 Ricker Road. It uses a format similar to the TV show “The View,” with a panel discussion and weekly topics, Gold said.
“Every week is different,” she said.
Every month, the program has family outings to places like Desert Strike Lanes, the installation’s state-of-the-art bowling center, Replica Aquatic Center or other venues.
The group is also starting to go to fitness classes together and is planning a new two-month fitness program called Couch to 5K. The goal is to get fit and eventually run a 5K together, Gold said.
Mindy Adams is an Army wife whose husband, Spc. Brian Adams, got home from a deployment last summer.
Participating in Hearts Apart helped her keep her “sanity” during a tough time, she said.
“It kept me going and focused during the deployment,” said Adams, who is originally from Dallas. “I’m not a very social person. It provided an outlet for me and my kids to meet other people in the same position.”
It not only kept her busy but also helped her form friendships that went beyond the group.
“Some of my best friends came out of that group,” Adams said. “They are really like family now; they’re not just friends. I consider them to be my sisters.”
Participation in the program tends to be cyclical depending on deployments at the installation, Gold said. Because of a new round of deployments last December, the program is seeing an upswing in attendance with about 150 families now, she said.
The program also plans an annual Thanksgiving dinner at Cattleman’s Steakhouse and a Christmas party where Santa makes a visit, Gold said.
What: Hearts Apart Empowerment Group is a support group for military spouses and families whose soldier is deployed or geographically separated for at least 30 days.
Coffee Morning: Hearts Apart meets at 9 a.m. Tuesdays at the Army Community Service building, 2494 Ricker Road. Dropping by this event is the best way to find out about the program.
Cost: It is free, although some activities may have a fee.
To join: You need to fill out a one-page application and provide a copy of your soldier’s deployment orders.
Information: (915) 569-4227, ext. 6. You can also find the Fort Bliss Relocation Assistance Program page on Facebook.