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Military wives team up on homefront

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POSTED: February 6, 2007 5:05 a.m.
Tara Crooks and Starlett “Star” Henderson laugh when people think they are country music singers or private investigators, but as the military continues to deploy they become more passionate about helping Army wives support their husbands and survive a life of shared sacrifice, acronyms and separations.
Crooks, a Richmond Hill resident,  said goodbye to her husband Tuesday. 3rd ID Capt. Kevin Crooks deployed with his company to Iraq and will spend his third deployment in five years away from home. This time, his second child will be born, making 5-year-old Wrena a big sister.
Henderson, who resides in Statesboro, was an Army captain before leaving the service a few years ago. Her husband, David, is an active National Guard captain and they have two children.  
Crooks’ and Henderson’s joint experiences and passion led them to cross paths this past summer. Army Wife Talk Radio and Field Problems are two methods they say will motivate, inspire and empower wives worldwide to make the most of their Army lifestyle. Crooks started Army Wife Talk Radio in 2005 while her husband was deployed.
“I started it after appearing on a show (radio) called advertising wives. They encouraged me to start an Army wives talk radio,” Crooks said.
Her background was already in business. She founded an at-home business called advertisingmoms.com
“It’s what I did before all of the Army stuff and afterwards I started thinking of things I was good at. I’m a mom and a military wife,” she said.
“Military families are important to me and I knew there was a gap in resources. I woke up 2 a.m. one morning and just started researching what was out there in terms of resources for military families,” Crooks said.  
The rest of the story unfolded quickly as Crooks prepared to host her first show in April 2005. The show is pre-recorded and can be heard over Podcast every Monday. She hopes the show will broadcast live soon.
“We don’t tell them about the mission. We want to help them make it through and enjoy the Army life,” she said.
Army Wife Talk covers a variety of topics and listeners can participate in discussions about family challenges, deployments and care package ideas, healthcare and relationships. The show morphed into a newsletter in June 2006, and that’s when Henderson came on the scene.
“Army Wife (talk radio) was getting a lot of responses and I quickly realized I would not be able to do this by myself,” Crooks said. The Army Wife Talk Radio audience was growing and Crooks saw the need to expand to a written resource. “People were really asking about resources. They needed to ask someone who was going through what they were going through," she said.
Henderson was one of the show’s message board participants and they instantly connected. Star was hired to write and edit the Army Wife Talk Radio newsletter.
“We are so different but we truly complement each other,” Crooks said.
Army Talk and Field Problems are two different things going on at the same time but they are very related, Crooks noted. She is the sole host for the talk radio, but Field Problems is a partnership with Henderson.
“It’s ‘Dear Abby’ for the military. That's what I call it," Crooks said. "We write back with a well researched answer and lead them to the resource that already exists that they just didn't know about."
Henderson said their audiences ask relationship questions and she hopes their encouragement will help stem the tide of divorce.
"We've learned from our deployments that there is no reason to throw up your hand and give up," she said.
"It's okay to be overwhelmed, it's okay to have real feelings," Crooks said. "I get irritated when my husband is not here. It's normal. I started this journey with him and I'll end this journey with him. It has been rough but it doesn't mean you're not going to make it."
Although 90 percent of spouses are wives, two emails from men reminded them to really pay attention to male spouses too, Henderson said.
"We're not just here just for families of deployed solders, we are here for all families. We even have mothers who ask questions," she said.  
Crooks has made reaching families a top priority even if it takes admitting her own weaknesses.
"Some of the questions are my own. I realize I need this show as much as it needs me," she said. "Our biggest passion is to reach more Army spouses. Somebody's gonna get the help that they really need."
 

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