New MFC director brings military background to job

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff


LAUREN PLATFOOT, the new director of Military Families Connect (part of the Family Resources Center of Sheboygan County), is a mother who is also a Naval veteran, both of which she sees as vital to her new duties. — Review photo by Emmitt B. Feldner LAUREN PLATFOOT, the new director of Military Families Connect (part of the Family Resources Center of Sheboygan County), is a mother who is also a Naval veteran, both of which she sees as vital to her new duties. — Review photo by Emmitt B. Feldner PLYMOUTH – The new coordinator of Military Families Connect is looking to combine her military and family experience to make wider connections in her new job.

Lauren Platfoot took over as leader of the family support group, part of the Family Resource Center of Sheboygan County, last month.

A 1989 graduate of Random Lake High School, Platfoot spent three years in the Navy as an aviation weapons specialist and is now married with two children.

MFC was formed in 2003 by several local women whose spouses had been deployed in the Iraq War as an ad-hoc support group and has grown steadily since then.

The local need was unique, Platfoot acknowledged, as there are no standing military bases in this area with their built-in family support structures.

“There really isn’t anything that is local that deals with military families in the Sheboygan County area,” she said.

“We have a lot of people in the Guard and Reserves,” in Sheboygan County, Platfoot explained. “All of a sudden they’re called up (to active duty) and military families don’t get the support they would in areas where there is a military base. It’s a big strain on the family as a whole.”

A decade later, that remains true. For instance, the Plymouth-based Battery B of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, a National Guard unit, is currently in the midst of a one-year deployment to Afghanistan – half a dozen or so years after a one-year deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

That’s another challenge facing military members and their families – units and soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines often deal with multiple deployments during their careers, Platfoot noted.

“Sometimes the effects of this are long-term,” she said. “There is a lot of stress and anxiety in a family where you have a deployed parent. The parent that is left behind is forced to take on the role of running the family and all the responsibilities of the household. Children of military families often times have behavioral issues.”

Mitigating that is the fact that many times schools, churches and other organizations the families belong to may not be aware that the child or parent is dealing with military deployment issues.

“Right now, I’m working on a project to collaborate with schools, churches, day care centers, religious organizations and others to build up a support network for military children and to be aware of some of the problems they face,” Platfoot said. “Even our local health agencies are not always equipped to deal with military families.”

That, she stressed, is why a group like Military Families Connects is so important. “It gives families a chance to network with each other, to share their experiences and offer support for each other.”

MFC also helps organize support for the deployed and active military members, with several package mailings to deployed service members throughout the year, which all members help to put together.

Platfoot, who has a degree in professional communication and business management from Alverno College, saw the MFC position as a perfect fit when it became available earlier this year.

“It was an opportunity to help people, but not in a corporate setting, and it was very much in line with my background and degree,” she related.

But there are things she is learning on the job, she added, and challenges.

“The families that I have to deal with because of Guard or Reserve (activations and deployments), because I was active duty, I wasn’t aware of the impact that had on those families,” Platfoot admitted.

There are currently 127 families that are members of MFC, Platfoot said. The group holds monthly meeting the last Monday of each month, with the format of a pot luck dinner, a presentation or speaker, and a group activity.


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