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College offers Iraq support services

Colleen Kiely | Wednesday, March 30, 2005

While their family, friends and loved ones are serving in Iraq, members of the Saint Mary’s community join together to offer support to one another each week in a group for students who have loved ones in the military.The support group is co-sponsored by Saint Mary’s Counseling and Career Development and Campus Ministry, and it provides students with a place to come to share stories and have conversations with those experiencing similar situations. The need for such a group was brought to the attention of Campus Ministry and Counseling and Career Development by students and faculty. Both the sponsors of the group and faculty members knew of students who have a loved one serving in the military. For some students, it is a family member. Others know friends from home who are serving in the armed forces.”We’ve all had a few students who have friends or family serving in different capacities,” said Judy Fean, director of Campus Ministry. The group began meeting on March 15 and continues to meet every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the Campus Ministry room in the new Student Center at Saint Mary’s College.”While our numbers have been low, the responses we have received are appreciative,” said Gina Christiana of The Counseling and Career Development Center. The group has received e-mails from students studying abroad saying that although they cannot participate, they think that this is a great offering to the student body, especially those with loved ones serving in Iraq, she said.The goal of the group is to offer a warm, welcoming, safe and confidential environment, the directors said. By offering a sympathetic and confidential community, the group leaders hope that students will feel more comfortable coming to the group each Tuesday.The conversation and ideas discussed each week are contingent on the needs of the students who attend. The group is designed for support and will work with the needs of the individuals. “It is an opportunity to know that this is part of their story here as students, and they are not alone,” Fean said.

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