About 500 Army wives of all ages acted like carefree, giggly schoolgirls Wednesday during Operation Homefront Georgia’s Cabin Fever event at the Richmond Hill City Center. Soldiers’ spouses from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield were given an opportunity to decompress from the stress of military life.
OHF Georgia provides military families emergency support and morale services.
“The USO supports soldiers,” OHF Georgia director of morale services Liz Fichtel said. “We support the soldiers’ families.”
Fichtel said the event “could not have gone any better. I think it should get a 10 (rating).”
She added the spouses create a bond when they mingle.
“They understand the challenges of deployments and the issues of reintegration,” Fichtel said. “We (OHF Georgia) let them know they’re important too, that they’re not forgotten.”
Spouses enjoyed free neck and shoulder massages, Zumba and belly dance lessons, a catered lunch and games, and each received a goody bag filled with skin-care products and a scented candle as well as a terry cloth robe.
“All of these items were donated to OHF Georgia,” OHF Georgia director of operations Myra Ebner said. “Many of our corporate donors make gifts-in-kind.”
OHF Georgia and the Liberty County YMCA provided free childcare for the spouses, Ebner added.
Area businesses offered services and information during the event, including Hinesville massage therapist Miguel Ayala, Roffler Full Service Beauty Salon, Mary Kay consultant Chlorin Battey and Energy Oasis Health Club & Day Spa of Richmond Hill.
Local author and psychologist Dr. Gayle Rozantine also participated in Cabin Fever. Rozantine will officially release her mental health manual, “At Ease, Soldier! How to Leave the War Downrange and Feel at Home Again” on Sunday.
Jamie Leasure, wife of Spc. Robert Leasure with the 3rd Sustainment Brigade, said her husband deployed to Afghanistan last May. The two were together as a wedded couple less than three months, having gotten married March 9, 2010.
“I grew up in Hinesville and said I would never marry a soldier,” Leasure said. “He was the first soldier I ever dated and I married him.”
Leasure said the separation has been tough, but she has remained strong, buoyed by her devout faith and generous community support.
Leasure said OHF Georgia’s “outstanding” and interactive Facebook page has kept her engaged, and the Cabin Fever event was “a great way for all of us wives to come out and come together.”
Leasure said she’s found that maintaining a positive attitude is paramount to the active-duty service member’s well being, particularly when they’re serving overseas.
“You can’t be depressed just because your soldier is gone,” she said. “If he calls and you sound depressed, it just brings him down.”
A mother and daughter, both Army wives, attended Cabin Fever on Wednesday and received makeovers at Roffler Full Service Beauty Salon on Tuesday, courtesy of OHF Georgia and the Lifetime channel.
Shonna McClain came from Fort Gordon to visit her mother, Tina Gentry, at Fort Stewart. McClain is married to Sgt. Brent McClain. Gentry’s husband, Staff Sgt. Toby Gentry, is with the 4th Brigade and currently is deployed to Iraq.
“I have a son at Fort Bragg and a daughter stationed at Fort Carson,” Gentry added. “My dad was in the Army, too. We were stationed at Fort Stewart four different times when I was growing up. He retired here.”
She said there are more resources for military families today, like OHF Georgia, than when her father was active duty.
“When my dad was in the service, families didn’t get much information about what was going on,” Gentry said. The self-described Army brat, wife and mom said today Family Readiness Groups do a good job of keeping spouses connected to their soldiers and each other. She said when her sister passed away, the FRG and OHF Georgia helped her family through their tragedy.