By Adam Baker/News writer

A handful of students, faculty and staff met Monday in the Herndon Lounge. The people were of different ages, races and backgrounds but all had one thing in common — they each had concerns about military deployments. The group came together for “Dealing with Deployment: The Roller Coaster of Uncertainty,” a program sponsored by the campus Counseling Center and the department of military sciences. The event was geared for those who will be dealing with the uncertainty of a loved one being deployed.

A panel of experts casually spoke with the audience on how to cope with military deployments of loved ones.

Michalle Rice, counselor at Eastern’s Counseling Center, said her office began planning the program before the U.S. launched its attacks on Iraq.

“Once we went to war we realized we needed the program even more,” she said.

Gulf War veteran, Maj. Lance Patterson was one of the members of the panel who gave a first-hand account of what miliary personnel and their families deal with during deployment. Patterson has been deployed at least 15 times during his military career.

“Deployment is a hard thing,” he said. “You can’t call home immediately and that can cause your loved ones a lot of trepidation.”

Dawn Lewis, executive director of the Daniel Boone Chapter of the American Red Cross in Berea was also available to talk about how the Red Cross helps military families.

She explained services and aid the Red Cross provides to families who find themselves burdened after a loved one is deployed.

Other members of the panel included Donna Bentley and Melissa Neal, who are both military wives. The two are involved with military support groups that help spouses, girlfriends and other family and friends of deployed service members cope with military life.

Bentley explained that some military wives have never balanced a checkbook until their husbands are deployed. “You think that’s crazy but for some people, they just have never had to do it,” she said.

Neal, whose husband is stationed in Bosnia, said when her husband left for overseas, her heater broke and the water pipes froze.

“I used to cry once a week,” she said, noting that she now doesn’t cry as much.

Rice added that in addition to programs like the informational she hopes to begin a support group for students to vent their feelings regarding the war, especially feelings about loved ones who have been deployed.

“The purpose is to provide the opportunity for people to come and talk about what’s happening,” she said.

The support group is open to all students, faculty and staff who are affected by deployments. This may include spouses, fiancs, girlfriends and friends or immediate family members of deployed troops. A specific time and location for the meetings has not been determined. For more information, contact Rice at 622-1303.