USNS MERCY, At sea (NNS) -- As the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), prepares to return home from deployment, Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) began classes onboard, Sept. 1, to help service members prepare for reunions with their loved ones.
Matt Salas, Work and Family Life Lead for Financial Readiness at the FFSC Metro San Diego, has been been holding three classes a day with topics including, Returning to Children; Managing Stress; and, Single Service Member Homeward Bound.
"The workshops offer help to all service members, active duty or [Reservists], to prepare for the best homecoming possible," said Salas. "For the last 20 years, FFSC educators have been invited to meet commands returning from deployment through our Return and Reunion program. The classes are designed to target the specific challenges faced by today's military families, whether it's the end of their first deployment, or their fifth."
Salas explained FFSC classes are proven to reduce the number and severity of incidents upon the service members return home.
"These workshops are aimed to manage our emotions and normalize our feelings," said Salas. "Deployment can change our perspective on all aspects of life from food, to how we treat people and even to how we view new cultures.
"In an effort to manage these new experiences and our expectations for homecoming, the workshops help all service members prepare for their reunion with loved ones and reintegration to 'normal' life," Salas added.
Steel Worker 3rd Class Bryan Howe is deployed with Seabee detachment from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) One in support of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) and will be returning home to a family he left behind.
"Being away from my family is always hard," said Howe. "Having these workshops offered to us is a great avenue to [help us] adjust from deployed life to life back home."
Howe added he is very thankful for FFSC taking time to come out and offer the reunion workshops.
"This [deployment for Pacific Partnership 2012] was a mission about helping people," Howe said. "It is just nice to think that now, when we need it, there are people like the FFSC who are here to help us."
Pacific Partnership, an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet sponsored humanitarian and civic assistance mission now in its seventh year, brings together U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-government organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
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