776 Support Maintenance Company departs Elizabethton for Middle East

Leaving family behind for any length of time can be an emotional experience, but saying goodbye to a family member for months or years, especially a parent or spouse, can be another ordeal altogether.

Members of the 776 Support Maintenance Company set out for their next deployment Sunday morning for the Middle East.

Master Sergeant James Dugger said the company had not seen deployment since 2008-2009.

“They have been training for the past year, and Sunday was their report day,” Dugger said.

He said the company plans to remain in the Middle East for a little less than a year.

He said there are a lot of emotions as families say goodbye to their loved ones before they depart.

“You see a lot of children crying,” he said. “They do not know where their parents are going. They just know one of their parents will be gone.”

While deployment has its challenges for the men and women who serve, he said the hardest job is for the families who stay behind.

“For the wife who stays behind, she has to assume the husband’s duties,” Dugger said. “It is difficult maintaining a home in their absence.”

For those families, he said they have formed a support group that holds regular meetings.

“They contact each other by phone, e-mail and text message constantly to discuss problems and ways to deal with tough situations,” he said.

He said many organizations provide discounts or other services for military families, such as a discounted oil change.

On the Company’s side, Dugger said one of the hardest parts of training is the sometimes large generational gap between different service members.

“We have soldiers all the way from Memphis who serve with us,” he said. “We have got many different cultures here.”

In spite of that, he said those at the National Guard Armory work together towards a unified goal.

“You have to focus on cohesion, on how to bridge that generational gap,” he said. “You have your chain of command, and everyone in that chain has to come together to achieve that goal.”

For families looking for more information about the support group, they can contact the armory at 423-341-8675.

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