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Group reaches out to military families

Vern Truax and Christina Rost have no misconceptions about the sacrifice families make when a loved one is deployed.

Truax's wife deployed overseas a few years ago. And Rost is going through it now as her husband serves in Kuwait. Both have served in the military as well.

That's why they take their jobs supporting military families seriously. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week the duo run the Family Assistance Center based out of the Rosemount Community Center. The center helps military families through just about everything.

"We are a one stop shop for (military families)," said Truax.

A big part of what they do is help families through the military red tape such as insurance and pay issues. However, they also help the families through everyday troubles such as a broken toilet or an aching heart.

"The basic reason we exist is to keep the soldiers focused," said Truax. "If they're worried about home then they're not focused on the job at hand and they can be dangerous to themselves and others."

To help military families Truax and Rost use a community support system that they have built over the years. They use resources that have been offered from organizations such as churches, the American Legion, VFW and area businesses.

Last week they had a family that needed a toilet fixed so Rost sent out an e-mail asking if anyone could help. Pastor Bill Goodwin from Lighthouse Church responded and sent someone to the rescue.

Truax said area groups have been wonderful in helping military families, especially the VFW and the American Legion.

"We have a great partnership with them," he said.

While the duo can provide the practical things, they also try to help people who are struggling emotionally with having a family member deployed.

"Some people are angry and just need someone to listen to them," said Truax. For others who want professional help they have access to counselors.

There are nine Family Assistance Centers located around the state. The centers serve families of all branches of the military. Families are not bound by locality and can call any of the offices.

Family Assistance Centers started in 2003 and are financed through the Department of Defense. Truax said with so many Minnesotans deployed the offices are heavily used.

"This war is different because there are so many reserves being used," said Truax. "It's really hitting the heart of America."

With members of the 34th Infantry Division leaving for Iraq this week including more than a dozen Rosemount residents there are surely families who will need some assistance. Truax encouraged them to use the center.

"Call us we can help," said Truax.

To contact the Family Assistance Center call 651-282-4748.