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Big Brothers/Big Sisters helps military families with new program

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An absent parent can leave a void and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Texas is trying to fill it with a new program called Military Mentoring.

The Ventresca family like most other families has its challenges, like how to handle things when father Zach is away on deployment or assignment. It can be tough for their 2 daughters.

"When he was deployed it was hard. They missed him and worried at times they needed someone else to talk to besides me and that was scary at times," military wife Diane Ventresca.

"He isn't available on cell and I can't talk on e-mail immediately. So I guess sometimes it's scary because I think something may have happened to him," said oldest daughter Alyssa Caribardi.

It's that kind of stress that Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Texas is trying to relieve with a new program called military mentoring.

"They have a unique set of challenges with deployment and because of that we thought we could provide a resource to the families that would help them out," said Melanie Chasteen of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Alyssa has a Big Sister mentor, someone to do stuff with to get out of the house, go shopping and just someone to hang out with.

"I think having a big really helps because it gives them another adult they can talk to. We don't have family in the area so I wanted the girls to have someone to talk to if they weren't comfortable talking to me," said Diane.

"Helps a lot because I can talk to them about stuff that I can't talk to my parents about," said Alyssa.

For the parent, if anything it offers an hour break once a week, a little re-charge time, but perhaps it offers something more important.

"When your spouse is deployed and your mother and father you won't always see every little change in your child and if a concern does arise there is another adult that can see that early," said Diane.

The Military Mentoring Program provides one-to-one mentoring services to children of active duty military, deployed parents and children who are survivors. There's no requirement concerning rank, level of service, or economic situation. The Central Texas chapter is hoping to serve 70 children.

For more information about the Military Mentoring Program click here.

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