Fair aims to ease families into coming deployment
Stars and Stripes March 12, 2008
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — The first stop for the Barnhart family was the legal booth, where they got their power of attorney affairs in order. Then they stopped at the DARE booth, where they registered their daughter for a child safety program. After that, it was off to the Red Cross, to learn about the services available in case of an emergency during the deployment.
As the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division gears up for another deployment to Iraq, the local support agencies in Baumholder gathered Tuesday for a Deployment Fair.
“This is our first deployment,” said Laura Barnhart, who was busy gathering as much information as she could before her husband departs this spring.
The two-day event marks the first time that the U.S. Army Garrison at Baumholder has pulled together all of its service providers into one place before a deployment, according to event coordinator Bianca Bowen.
About 30 organizations set up information booths at Baumholder’s Hall of Champions, where families collected pamphlets about everything from Morale, Welfare and Recreation trips to youth sports programs.
“We want the families to know about all that is available here,” said Bowen, Baumholder’s director of planning and mobilization. “We hope to educate young spouses.”
With the Iron Brigade heading into its third Iraq deployment, the community that supports the spouses left behind continues to evolve and find new ways to get families information, Bowen said.
One of the more unusual information booths dealt with security and intelligence.
Special Agent David May from 66th Military Intelligence said he was on hand to make sure people know whom to call if they see something unusual during their time in Germany.
“Most people don’t report when they see something suspicious,” May said. “That’s why we’re here. To encourage them to call.”
For example, over the weekend May received a call about a suspicious driver on Autobahn 62, who was snapping pictures of vehicles with American plates.
“We’re looking into it because someone called,” May said.
Perhaps the most popular booth, though, was the Drug Abuse Resistance Education stall, where Staff Sgt. Kevin Collins was collecting data.
In case a child is lost or missing, Collins’ office will have the fingerprints and measurements of that child on file.
“I don’t plan on leaving my daughter alone,” said mother Laura Schlaf after registering her 2-year-old.
But just in case, she registered Cassandra, who weighed in at 23 pounds and just under 3 feet tall. After getting fingerprinted, the tot walked off with a new toy — a stuffed Minnie Mouse.