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Minnesota National Guard
Military Family Preparation Academy (video)

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Soldiers in the Minnesota National Guard can undergo a lot of pain and anxiety when they are deployed, but their spouses, children, and family members are often just as distraught and worried

This weekend more than 2,000 military family members will gather at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a Family Preparation Academy in hopes of learning more about how to cope with the deployment process

"In the past four years we started preparing families because we realize that the families are one of the most important supporters for the service members while they are deployed So the more that they know, the more resources that they have to help get them through the deployment the better," says Lieutenant Barb O'Reilly, the National Guard's chief of deployment cycle support

The event especially helps children, who because of their age, may or may not know what to make of the situation

"They don't understand why dad is gone or mom is gone and they don't understand the additional burden that the stay at home parent has Yet because the world revolves around children they don't understand why all of a sudden mom is too busy to get me to basketball practice or whatever," adds O'Reilly

Every family deals with deployment differently so the event offers things like books and videos to help instruct parents or even the option to send their kids to camps

"The Minnesota National Guard has a youth camp at Camp Ripley and Operation Purple Camp is a free summer camp for kids to connect with each other because lots of times kids are the only kids in their school that is going through a deployment, says" National Guard state youth coordinator Laura Poppen

Lieutenant Colonel Troy Soukup says the weekend also gives spouses a chance to reach out to one another
"Putting a face to a name and seeing that person that when you need help you've seen and met that person, you're able to come back to them and now you feel comfortable," says Soukup

Military members taking part in this weekend's program will most likely be deployed later this year

Posted at: 01/08/2011 10:48 PM
By: Andrew Lovelette

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Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

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