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From left, Seth Gillingham, 2, Cora Patterson, 4, and her nine-month-old sister Gina; McKayla Freeman, 3, and one-year-old sister Kiersten, Sarah Delaney, 6 months, and her older sister Allie Delaney, 3; enjoy some time together at the Military Family Resource Centre as their moms take some time for a coffee. - Chris Hunsley/NNSL photo

Military families get support

Chris Hunsley
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 10/04) - The valiant efforts of the Canadian Forces throughout the years may only be matched by the sacrifices made by their families.

Be it long-term deployments, injuries, regular moves or irregular shift work: hardship, absences and adjustment come with the job -- let alone the ultimate sacrifice.

Helen Gillingham spoke of her husband returning home from a peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights just six hours before their first child was born. Two months later, he was back on exercise, she said.

"It's just part of the game."

In the past, military families were seen solely in the backdrop, but today's Forces maintain a support network to ensure those left behind have as much help as can be offered. "The mandate is to enhance the quality of life of military families," said Marty van Sloun, child and youth program co-ordinator for the Yellowknife Military Family Resource Centre.

Existing across the country, centres offer services such as relocation help, counselling services, employment assistance, re-integration information and childcare.

"When you don't know if your husband is going to be here or there, at least you know you have some support," said military wife Tobi Patterson.

The small military force posted in the North has also created a close-knit group among the military spouses, she said.

"They get me out of the house and it gets my kids to interact with other kids," she said, noting she'll be hanging around the centre often in the near future as her husband is expected to leave soon for another six weeks.