Official 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion Send-off

By Dawn Miller, Red Cross Volunteer

A group of Lakeland Chapter volunteers and Disaster Services Director, Judy Gregory, were among the family, friends, veteran groups, elected officials and community supporters who attended the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion Deployment Ceremony. It was the official send-off before many of them leave on Sunday but it was also an opportunity to thank the families who support the military members. Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Vaughn noted, as he addressed the audience, that the military members of the unit wouldn’t be able to serve their country as they have if it weren’t for the support of their families.

This is the third time the unit has been deployed since 2003. Many of the 100 members of the unit who are being deployed to Afghanistan will be heading to Camp Atterbury, Ind., this Sunday to start preparing for their June deployment. They will spend the following 9 months providing Civil Affairs expertise to Provincial Reconstruction Teams in various locations throughout Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“This is a military unit we have been working with for years and have established a wonderful relationship,” said Judy Gregory, Disaster Services Director. Both active duty and community-based military know they can count on the Red Cross to provide emergency communications, access to financial assistance, counseling and assistance to veterans.

When the Red Cross received the call about this event they thought they were being asked to support but this time they were invited as guests.

Captain Casey Plamann said the Red Cross was invited as an honored guest because of all the support they have offered the unit over the years. “The most important aspect is the support the Red Cross offers the families while a military member is deployed.”

“The Red Cross in this area has an open-dialogue with the Family Readiness Group, which makes for a great partnership,” said Captain Plamann.

Before military units are deployed they have briefings and the Red Cross is included in these briefings to explain the programs and services the Red Cross offers through its services to armed forces program. We also offer support in other ways including providing babysitting services for military families with small children during these briefings.

Captain Plamann said the Deployment Ceremony would be a wonderful chance for the Red Cross to also interface with families. “Its a good opportunity for the Red Cross to be visible if families have concerns.”