GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Gulfport Seabees and their families are busy preparing for next month's deployment. Members of NMCB 11 will be headed overseas and leaving loved ones behind.
That's why a pre-deployment fair held Friday at the VFW post in Gulfport was so important.
"Whatever you'd like, we've got all sorts of resources here on the table," said a representative from the Fleet and Family Support Center, as a line of Seabees headed toward her display.
Hundreds of Seabees, along with their spouses and children, are busy preparing. Those who wear the uniform accept the inevitable that comes with that: Deployment overseas.
"It's very hard. And it's nice to have other people around that are having the same, going through the same things. It's very nice," said Leah Booher, with the Family Readiness Group.
Bill Perkins understands. That's why the state commander of the VFW is proud his Gulfport post can host this event and help these young service men and women with the upcoming separation.
"Very important. Because if they've got to worry about their family, they can't do their job properly. They can't keep their mind focused on what they need to be focused on," said Commander Perkins.
Jon Wilson knows this much. He'll miss his wife and two-year-old daughter, Leila.
"It's very tough to leave them. She was very young last deployment. Now she's going to be two, so she knows who I am," he said, smiling at his pretty daughter.
"Lots of emails. Lots of Facetime. Just do what you can, I guess," said his wife, Cary. "It's hard. It's hard. But it's harder watching her miss her daddy."
Anthony Williams has deployed overseas five times before. He's thankful for these family resources.
"They're in good hands. We've got a fleet and family support center and the NMCB 11 ombudsman program that offers support to your families. So, they're in good hands. I feel at ease leaving my family," said Williams.
"All deployments are tough. But this one will be because it's a holiday deployment. They'll be gone for all the good holidays," said Melissa Renner.
"I have retired and active duty friends that have offered their services in any way that she needs or he needs," said Joshua Renner, pointing toward his wife and three-year-old son, Lincoln.
That's one inherent and priceless benefit of being a military member: All are family here.
Members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 will be deploying to several locations next month, including Africa and Guam.