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Services available for soldiers with holiday blues
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The holiday season can sometimes prove to be challenging for many, especially for service men and woman.  Duty stations far from home, recent redeployments and busy work schedules can make it difficult for troops to meet the holidays’ expectations.  But officials at Fort Stewart want to help soldiers and their families who may not be able to go home avoid the holiday blues. Susan Chippel is the outdoor recreation and leisure activities director for Fort Stewart’s Moral, Welfare and Recreation Department.  During the next few weeks her department will offer a host of activities for soldiers and their families to enjoy.“We’re offering free or low-cost - inexpensive things - for them to do, so that they’re not just sitting in their rooms by themselves,” she said. The MWR events began earlier this week to coordinate with the soldiers’ half-day schedules, and will continue until New Year’s Day. “On Monday, Rocky’s held a Wii tournament and ‘Monday Night Football’ trivia, and on Friday they’re having a Texas hold ’em tournament,” Chippel said. “They’re trying to put a theme with each night that they are open, giving people an incentive to come.”Besides fun-filled nights at the post’s sports bar, Chippel said soldiers and their families can sign up to play in a three-on-three basketball tournament at Newman Gym or a speedball tournament in the post’s newly purchased speedball arena. “They’ve been through so much, and they just need an outlet to get out and interact with other people,” she said.  “We’re trying to provide them with that.”In case the activities are not enough to get homesick soldiers through the holidays, Military Onesource representative Beverly Townes, said there are always online and telephonic services to use. “We’re available seven days a week, and we will also be open Christmas,” she said. “No matter what time they call, they’ll always be able to get an answer from a real person.” The online and telephone consultant company was called on by the U.S. Department of Defense five years ago to be an information portal for service members and their families.By calling the company’s 1-800 number, or visiting the Military Onesource Web site, soldiers and dependents can talk with a consultant about their issue – social or emotional.Townes believes Military Onesource’s ability to analyze and offer a possible solution to military families is crucial.  “Looking for a (counselor) yourself can be very stressful, especially during the holiday season,” she said, “but if you can get someone to talk to you while you are right in the middle of feeling these issues, that is key.”Military Onesource is available by calling 1-800-342-9647 or logging onto     
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