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RAF MILDENHALL — Every spouse handles a deployment differently, with those myriad tasks that need to be checked before the husband or wife heads out to do their job.

There are communication issues, power-of-attorney matters and a host of other things that can go pear- shaped while there’s only one parent in the house.

“Inevitably, everything goes wrong,” Alice Boyer said half-jokingly.

Still, learning and being reminded of all the aspects involved in a deployment, from finances to possible post-traumatic stress disorder, can help ease the burden, she said.

That’s part of the rationale behind THRIVE, a program put together here by the local Protestant Women of the Chapel.

On Friday, a number of spouses met at Mildenhall’s Middleton Hall to learn about deployment-related issues from a variety of speakers.

THRIVE stands for “Take Hold of Reality and Invest for Victory in the End.” The program was started at the Army’s Fort Riley, Kan., a few years ago, Boyer said. It is the first time the program is being tried in Europe, and organizers hope to expand it to other locations.

“We’re trying to reach those whose spouses are deployed or are getting ready to deploy,” Boyer said. “It really helps giving some practical ideas.”

The chapel group is hoping to hold a similar event early next year, she said.

The hardest part of a deployment can be the day-to- day issues, Boyer said, and the questions from little ones that just aren’t easy to answer.

“They don’t understand why daddy isn’t there, and where he is,” she said.

Throughout the day Friday, attendees got advice on everything from PTSD and personal health to sparking the romance when the spouse returns.

While the event is sponsored by the Protestant group, Boyer said anyone is welcome.

One attendee, Anita Couvillion, is dealing with her first deployment. Her husband, Lt. Col. Jerry Couvillion, is in Iraq.

I’ve been able to do a lot more than I thought I could do,” she said, adding that her husband is due back in December.

Sitting next to her, Sue Moore is a seasoned spouse when it comes to deployments. Her husband, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Moore, is also deployed now, and she’s been through it before.

Dealing with deployments involves an ability to be independent, Moore said.

“You have to have some type of an independent streak to survive in this marriage,” she said.

But independence doesn’t mean isolation, she said, and it’s important to stay connected with friends and other members of the community.

“You don’t close yourself off,” she said. “If friends invite you out for dinner, go.”

Spouses need to lean on each other when it comes to child care and support, Moore said.

Just being around similar spouses can help, Couvillion said.

“It’s good to be around other people going through the same thing,” she said.


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