Service members and their family members attended the Brown Bag Lunch at Copperas Cove Public Library on Tuesday to support soldiers returning home from deployment.

The meeting, sponsored by the library, was an open forum led by a Fort Hood counselor where guests could speak freely about their personal experiences and get practical advice on family crises.

The counselor, Mary Wright, is a military and family life counselor who works with soldiers and family members at Fort Hood. She addressed the hardships military families face with extended deployments and gave methods they can use to cope.

She advised spouses to “have their own mission. It will help occupy their time and give them something to focus on other than grief.”

Many of the luncheon guests, ranging from family members to retired soldiers, spoke about their struggles with short- and long-term separation and sought individual feedback from the counselor.

Ryan Haverlah, Cove’s budget director, discussed his first-hand accounts of how deployments can influence a family’s well-being.

Councilman Mark Peterson, who attended the luncheon, said he often visits events focusing on combat stress management to get information on new programs and services at Fort Hood.

As a veteran with 30 years of active-duty service, Peterson said he understands the stress that goes along with deployments.

“I’ve deployed three times myself,” he said. “My family comes to these (meetings) when they have the opportunity to.”

The library regularly hosts Brown Bag events on a variety of subjects, Library Director Kevin Marsh said, adding that on average 20 to 30 people attend each luncheon.

“It really depends on how we get the word out about a program and what kind of interest it catches,” he said.

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