HUNT VALLEY, Md. (WJZ) — As hundreds of soldiers in the Maryland National Guard receive orders to deploy, the Guard is reaching out to help their families get ready.

As Gigi Barnett explains, it comes during the holidays.

Before a soldier in the Maryland National Guard sees action in Iraq or Afghanistan, one of his or her first stops is a pre-deployment event at the Marriott in Hunt Valley.  Here, they learn everything some soldiers forget to do before leaving.

“It’s a lot to take in here, but my family is the key to it,” said Maryland National Guardsman Specialist Joseph Dixon.

Orders to deploy came a few weeks ago for Specialist Dixon.  He’s ready but concerned about leaving family behind.

“It’s a hard deployment over there,” he said.

His sister and girlfriend feel the same.  Because Dixon’s deployment is so soon after the holiday, his family is determined to make it memorable.

“We are planning a lot of good times before he leaves,” said Kirstin Wilde, Dixon’s sister.

The National Guard says the event is a training session, but it’s also a time for families to bond before deployment.

“The whole family is prepared for his deployment” after these events, said Maryland National Guard Spokesperson Col. Charles Kohler.

Information on everything from money matters to family counseling was offered at the pre-deployment event.


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