Dealing with Deployment--Part II - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/19/05

Dealing with Deployment--Part II

Tara Crooks Tara Crooks

Thousands of military families right here in our area are dealing with the anxiety of being separated from their loved ones. It helps to have someone to talk to. Or even to listen to. But where do you turn?

Tara Crooks, whose own husband is deployed, is not only providing a much-needed service for Army spouses, she's turned it into a newfound career as an internet talk show host.

Crooks has carved out a unique niche for herself online with Army Wife Talk Radio. "I'm having a blast," she told us. "It's not work to me. It's fun."

A stay-at-home mom to three-year-old Wrena, Crooks ran her own online advertising business to help other home-based working moms when a friend encouraged her to try something more.

"This is my passion," Crooks said. "This is what I like to do. I like to teach. I want to teach AFTB--Army Family Team Building. I could do this on an internet show, so I thought 'Army Wife Talk Radio.'"

Crooks launched Army Wife Talk Radio online in March and has been going strong ever since. Each week, she records a new hour-long show from the comforts of home.

Listeners, like Melanie Tatom, can play the streaming broadcast online or download the show to listen at their convenience. "I think it's a lot of fun," Tatom said. "It's a lot of great information and things that a lot of wives are experiencing and going through and dealing with and it's just an encouraging and uplifting show."

"I came up with the ideas for the topics and it was easy," said Crooks. "It's amazing to me. I thought it's going to be hard getting guests, but people want to be on there because we're helping wives. We're helping our troops."

That was very important to Crooks. Her own husband, Capt. Kevin Crooks, a battalion fire support officer, deployed with the 5-7 Cavalry in January.

"My husband, he is an extremely good dad and an extremely good officer," she said. "He takes care of his soldiers."

With her husband and so many others on their mission, Crooks felt she had a mission of her own. "I try to do what he does on his end, for the wives on my end.

"I love being an Army wife," she added. "I'm proud of my husband. I love to mentor young Army wives or new spouses and teach them because there are so many programs to help them out there that we don't know about."

Crooks's help may be coming at just the right time with so many families dealing with deployment. "During deployment, Mom is not just Mom. She's Mom. She's Dad. She's the lawn maintenance worker. She's so many different things and I'll tell you what, I miss him when I'm out there and I'm pushing my lawnmower and I'm thinking, 'I've got so many other things to do. Why am I mowing the lawn?'"

For Crooks, recording the show is therapy. She hopes it means that much to others. While her husband is away, she admits to having her ups and downs, but says she's determined to hold things together.

While her husband is away, phone calls, pictures and emails and even web cams help to ease the separation. But it's all been a little confusing for three-year-old Wrena. While Capt. Crooks was in Korea, Wrena actually thought he lived in the computer.

Wives are not the only family members who are left behind when their loved ones go off to war. Coming up tomorrow on THE News at 5, we'll meet a major in the Army Reserves who's staying home to care for his two special-needs boys while his wife is deployed.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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