Care Team stands ready to counsel, assist grieving families in Germany
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — These days, losing a loved one in Iraq has become grimly common for some military communities in Europe. But life, and the mundane decisions that face people every day, still go on.
To help with those little things that may turn insurmountable to those who are grieving — and to provide counsel if needed — 1st Armored Division communities in Germany initiated the Care Team program earlier this year. Services include helping those affected get their dog walked, feed the kids and prioritize what happens next in those first couple of days.
The two- to three-member groups of trained volunteers are available upon request to spouses and families who are dealing with the unthinkable. But while the program has been offered numerous times, there have been no takers as of yet in Friedburg or Baumholder, home to the division’s deployed 1st and 2nd brigades, respectively.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Community officials say families and spouses have been able to call upon their own circle of friends and family for support. Still, the volunteers stand ready.
“They have always been offered,” said Chaplain (Col.) Bruce Fredrickson, who works in the 1st Brigade community. “Sometimes spouses will choose not to use them, but we educate them ahead of time to make sure they know about these things.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the dog for a walk, or bringing over a casserole, to the more complicated tasks of a Care Team member actually providing support and counsel.”
The program is an especially important asset to have for new arrivals to the community, or younger families who might not know a lot of people, said Chaplain (Col.) James Brown, who works in the 2nd Brigade’s Baumholder community.
Help in one form or another is certainly needed in these 1st AD areas. Between Baumholder and Friedburg, nearly 40 soldiers have died in Iraq since March. More than 100 community members in those areas have been trained as Care Team members since the program’s inception. The concept was derived from a similar stateside program.
Volunteers are trained to keep their emotional composure and to help those grieving prioritize what they need, said Dan Furlano, an Army Community Services official at Baumholder. ACS has provided training for Care Team volunteers.
“[Training] teaches them to understand and know about grieving, what the person is going through,” Furlano said. “Everybody grieves their own way and on their own timetable. We try to make them familiar with it, help them understand that dynamic, so that they’re not shocked.”
Alisha McGuire, whose husband is deployed with the 2nd Brigade’s 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, said she volunteered so she could be there in case something does happen.
Informally, McGuire said she has already helped comfort a grieving friend on her own, and that she stands ready to help the community in any way she can.
To get involved with the Care Team program, contact your local unit or your local Army Community Service office. In Baumholder, call ACS at 485-8188. At Friedburg, call 324-3465.