By Sherry Koonce
The News staff writer
NEDERLAND — Under a sunny summer sky, U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from Southeast Texas gathered at Doornbos Park Sunday for a day for family fun.
Organized by the Family Readiness Group, the Family Fun Day is scheduled each year to bring soldiers and their families together in a social setting.
“We’ve had a real good turnout today, especially since the majority of our soldiers are young and unmarried,” Captain Dwayne Rose, commander of the 1002 Quartermaster Company of the U.S. Army Reserve in Beaumont, said.
Sponsored by the Family Readiness Group, the event was the first social activity held since Rose became commander on July 21. Soldiers and their families were treated to barbecue, door prizes and games. Children enjoyed a moonwalk.
While the event was planned for fun, it provided families an opportunity to get to know one another and to join or learn more about the Family Readiness Group.
The support group, whose members get training through the Army, helps families while soldiers are deployed.
“When a soldier is gone, the group can help with questions about benefits, insurance coverage, emergencies, or can provide someone to talk to,” Master Sgt. Linda Boseman said.
Rose said about 65 percent of the soldiers were between the ages of 17 and 21. Though none are deployed at this time, it is very likely some will return to Iraq before the war is over, he said.
When that occurs, the Family Readiness Group provides support for a soldier’s family while he or she is away from home.
Spc. Travis McLaurin and his wife, Carlisha, know all too well how much the Family Readiness Group can help out when a soldier is away.
Married for the past two years, the couple first met at Fort Polk in Leesville, La., when she was enlisted in the Army and he was a new civilian.
“I’d just got out after serving 15 months in Iraq and was working as a civilian mechanic for her motor pool,” Travis McLaurin recalled. “One day I grilled, she tasted my barbecue and the rest is history. I’ve been cooking for her ever since,” he said.
After the pair married, Carlisha McLaurin was deployed to Iraq, leaving her civilian husband home to care for their blended family.
While in Iraq, she discovered she was pregnant and was sent home before her tour was up. Once home, her husband decided to re-enlist.
He’s anticipating another deployment to Iraq and is thankful for the support the Family Readiness Group will offer.
“It’s a good thing to have this group. When I’m over there, I don’t have to stress so much. I know that my wife and family are not alone. If she needs someone to talk to, or has an emergency or any kind, they are there to help her,” he said.
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