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This question appeared on the Spouse Calls blog. A reader wants to know how to find support during deployment:

Hi, this is my first time on this site. My fiancé is in the military and he is in Iraq right now. Do you know of any support groups in the Houston area?

— MNH

Those of us with military attachments need support from the military community, especially during deployments. I’m glad you are reaching out, even before you embark on life as a military spouse.

My best suggestion for finding fellow military spouses, fiancés and families is to volunteer for a military support organization.

I’ve come up with a short list of groups that utilize volunteers to support the military. I’d love to hear from readers who have more suggestions. Here are mine:

• The United Service Organization: The USO does a lot more than fly the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders around the world. Volunteers for USO Centers at many airports are there to give care packages to deploying troops and welcome them back when they return. USO Centers offer services such as Internet access, child play rooms and a place to relax for military members and families in transit. The USO also provides formal support groups for military families. To find a USO in your area and to read more about all the things they do — way too much to list here — go to www.uso.org.

• The Red Cross: This well-known organization supports the military in many ways that are not so well-known. For all military and their families, the Red Cross provides emergency communication, access to emergency financial assistance, counseling and veterans services, their Web site says. See www.redcross.org and click on “Military Members and Families” on the menu at left. Volunteers are also utilized for blood drives, perhaps the event most associated with the Red Cross, and certainly an essential one. At that Web address is a locator for local Red Cross chapters.

• Fisher Houses: Located near major military medical facilities, these houses provide a place for families to stay while a loved one is hospitalized. Very often these are families of wounded veterans. You can go to this Web site to find out if there is a Fisher House near you. www.fisherhouse.org/ theHouses/theHouses.shtml. Listings for each house include an e-mail address. Write to request information about volunteer opportunities — perhaps providing home-cooked meals or transportation for residents.

• The chapel at your nearest military installation: The chaplain may be able to direct you to a support group, or you might find support by getting involved in chapel programs. At this time of year, many base and post organizations have programs to support deployed servicemembers during the holidays, but support is important all year long.

• Local churches and civic organizations: If you don’t have access to a base or post, call churches and organizations in your area to find outreach programs for military members and families.

To answer your specific question, I have posted Web sites for some Houston locations on the Spouse Calls blog here. Scroll down to “Recent Comments” and click on “Find Support … Be Supportive.”

The best way to find support is to be supportive of the military in your community — a great way to start your life as a military spouse. I hope you do get involved and meet some of the wonderful people who are out there supporting the military community in Houston or wherever Uncle Sam takes you.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein AB. Send comments or questions to her at spousecalls@stripes.com.

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