Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, opened the fourth annual regional Forward March Conference at Snyder Baptist Memorial Church, Nov. 14.
Over the past four years, the conference has worked to increase public awareness of the unique challenges faced by military Families, especially in times of various conflicts and frequent deployments.
The conference acts as a joining force, bringing issues and those who can affect Soldiers’ and their Families’ lives together, at one time, and allows everyone to see from each other’s perspectives.
Speakers and participants included helping professionals from around the country in behavioral health, education, law enforcement, government, non-profit, and private organizations.
Anderson outlined Fort Bragg’s Healthy Base Initiative and building the force, which includes Soldiers, Families, civilians and retirees, during his introductory speech.
“We do have a campaign plan to make sure that we take care of our world-wide deployment requirements to do whatever our nation asks us to do, but more importantly, how we can take care of the readiness of our Soldiers and their Families along that process,” Anderson said.
Anderson went further into detail about some of the centers and programs on Fort Bragg, such as Army Wellness Centers, Comprehensive Soldier Family Fitness Program, Soldier for Life Transition Program and embedded behavioral health teams.
The Southern Regional Area Health Education Center has worked with the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County to organize the conference every year since it started.
La-Lisa Hewett-Robinson, director of education for mental health at Southern Regional AHEC, said the main goal of the conference is to put out information for servicemembers and their Families regarding community resources, not just sources on base.
“It’s definitely a value to our community,” Hewett-Robinson said about the conference.
Servicemembers make up a large percentage of the communities around post, but healthcare professionals outside of Bragg, may not understand their needs in relation to deployments, Hewett-Robinson said.
One of the speakers, Jake Rademacher, director and producer of the documentary Brothers at War, described the resiliency program that goes with his film and the impact that it fosters for servicemembers and their Families.
What started as a fundraiser for veterans with support from the Gary Sinise Foundation, turned into a new approach on reintegrating Soldiers from the battlefield.
“We organically discovered that the film was opening these doors between spouses and Soldiers; Soldiers and parents; Soldiers and kids,” Rademacher said. “I wondered, could we capture that inertia and take it a step further.”
The documentary shows Rademacher embedding with his brothers’ units in combat zones.
Both his brothers have six deployments each and Families at home who have come to find their own ways to cope with the constant battles, Rademacher said.
The movie is used to help other Soldiers open up and talk about their own issues, whether internal or external, through journaling and group discussions.
Rademacher said he hoped to learn more about the needs of Soldiers to better help them during his sessions with units who redeploy.
“It allows people to take a day or two to share lessons learned, but maybe more importantly, to receive lessons learned from other people and incorporate that into their work,” Rademacher said.
For more information about the conference, speakers, and past conferences, visit http://www.ccpfc.org/partners/forward-march.html.