The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on June 25, 2006 · Page 5
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 5

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Hays, Kansas
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Sunday, June 25, 2006
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Page 5
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SUNDAY, JUNE 25,2006 FROM PAGE 1 THE HAYS DAILY NEWS A5 DEALING: Adjustments can take time for families to settle into CONTINUED FROM PAGE A1 "This time it's much longer and more dangerous," she said "It's not face-to-face interaction, and we're relying on our communication systems to work." This time, she knows how to do certain things she had difficulty with before, such as lawn maintenance. There is still the issue of not having a second person to help with the kids or housework. Alicia Rymer, Hays, also has gone through two mobilizations. 1st Lt. Ryan Rymer is with the Kansas Army Reserves Headquarters Detachment 388th, Hays. With a 2- year-old son and a child on the way, finding out about her husband's activation to Fort Polk, La., in January 2003 was not an easy pill to swallow. The couple had been through a five- month deployment to Germany in 1996, but they weren't yet engaged. They found out about the deployment only three days before he needed to leave. The second deployment was geographically closer, but it was longer and more stressful. She was five months pregnant at the time. Ryan Rymer was able to come home for a few days every other month, and the family could come up a couple of times to visit for a few days. However, she and her son still needed to readjust. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Several resources are available for families of deployed soldiers and for help with readjustment. • Family Readiness Group: (800) 464-8107. • Army Family Assistance Hotline: (800) 833-6622. • Readjustment Counseling Service: (800) 905-4675. • Armytlmes: www.armytlmes.com/channel.php? GQID=292259. • Iraqi War Veterans Organization: www.lraqwarveterans.org/readlust ment_deployment.htm. • Army One Source: www.army onesource.com or (800) 464-8107. • Military One Source: www.mlll taryonesource.com (user Id: military and password: onesource) or (800) 342-9647. • National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders: www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/veterans/f 8_re8ources_for_vets.html. McMahan said a big part of surviving a deployment is finding a support system. McMahan and Rymer both found family and friends to be a significant asset during their husbands' absences. "Know who you can call, get a support system in place and don't be afraid to ask for help," McMahan suggested. "I think that's what I struggle with the most." She also recommended getting on a schedule, knowing one's limitations and realizing that not everything can be done by only one person. Alicia Rymer took military classes that helped her cope with her situation. She had additional help during her husband's tour. Someone mowed the lawn for free, and she got help minding the chemicals for her husband's salt-water fish tank. Ryan Rymer's absence was especially challenging for his wife because the tour was supposed to end after one year but was unexpectedly extended six months. Though it was frustrating and emotionally draining, she knew she had no choice but to endure. "I thought if I made it this far, I can do it a little while longer," she said. Ryan Rymer said being a military spouse is the toughest job in the Army. "It takes a really strong person to do that. The reason we're STAC1E R. SANDALL / Hays Dally News Lt. Ryan Rymer and his wife, Alicia, Hays, believe that because of their experiences, they can be a support system for families who experience deployment. Their children are Garret and Audrey Rymer. able to succeed in our job is because we have great spouses at home carrying on, doing our jobs and theirs," he said. It isn't just adults who have difficulty dealing with the changes. Garret Rymer, now 5, was trying to cope the only way he knew how. Every time his father would leave, Garret would exhibit anger and would stop potty training for a few days. At first, Alicia Rymer said, she and her husband didn't know what was going on, but they later realized that was how Garret was dealing with stress. To help Garret cope, his mother put cut-out airplanes on each day of the calendar and a picture of her husband and Garret on the day when he would return. Each day, an airplane came off the calendar, and Garret could see the time fly by. "Time is a real abstract thing to children," Ryan Rymer said. "It was one way for him to rationalize time." Jennifer McMahan seems to be handling the situation well. "I think that going through this life experience has made me a better and stronger person," she said. "I'm proud of my father, and that's all that really matters." The entire McMahan family is proud of their soldier. Susan McMahan said that just because her family needs support, it doesn't mean the family can't support her husband. "The best way I support my husband is through prayer," she said. She also realizes the importance of her husband being able to do his job and refrains from burdening him with too many issues at home. Many soldiers in her husband's unit have been served divorce papers already, which she says can affect an entire unit. Ryan Rymer was on an emotional roller coaster of his own during his activation. He was able to come home for his daughter's birth but couldn't spend much time with her. A few days after Audrey was born, his father died. His dog died not long after, and both of his children had medical issues. The lieutenant said it was an emotionally exhausting tour. After his return, it was time to readjust all over again. The family got back in sync by doing a lot of activities together and working slowly back into their relationship. "I took a few weeks off so everyone could reacclimate. You can't just jump right back into a relationship," he said. Ryan Rymer said being instructed how to readjust when getting home is a lot different than actually doing it once you get home. He heard the speech often, but hearing it and comprehending it isn't enough to be able to cope with it. Alicia Rymer had the helm for 18 months, wishing her hus- band could come home, but it was hard for her to relinquish some of the duties when he got back. "I had been doing them so long, it was really difficult for me to give back some of those responsibilities," she said. "If something needed done, I would just do it. I think he felt unneeded." As for Garret, for a while he would have anxiety issues whenever his father did anything with his uniform or got out any type of bag. He's gotten past that, his father said. Audrey McMahan, now 3, was born four months into the tour and didn't know who this man was that came home. "She grew up with me being away. It took her three or four months to get used to me and accept me," Ryan Rymer said. "When you're not around for the bonding phase, they're not able to really attach on as they would naturally." The couple agrees that Audrey is a little more attached to her mother even now. "There is some resentment on 'my part," Ryan Rymer said. "You kind of feel like you've been left in the dark. You can't take it personal, though." Though these experiences were, and still are, hard for the entire family, the Rymers feel like they can serve as support for others going through it. "There are a lot of younger families coming up that will have to deal with this at some point," Alicia Rymer said. "Ryan will be able to help those young guys going through this for the first time." Ryan Rymer said there will be military spouses new to the situation, also, and his wife can be a support for them. Reporter Stacie R. Sandall can be reached at (785) 628-1081, ext. 136, or by e-mail at ssandall @ dally news. net. Nursing Nurses give so much... Now you can give back to them Recognize arx,outstand|ing registered nurse through NURSING: THE HEART OF HEALTHCARE, a public service program coordinated by the University of Kansas School of Nursing. Every nurse nominated will receive a certificate of recognition. Ten nurses will be selected as award winners. Coordinated by: KU SCHOOL OF NURSING Nominate a Nurse Today Call 1-800-308-0890 or e-mail HOHCInfo@kumc.edu Nominations accepted through Aug. 1, 2006 Banquet Oct. 14, 2006 There's no such thing as a non-smoking section for waiters. 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