By Mollie Miller

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD A team of seven researchers from the United States Military Academy at West Point will be visiting with 1st Cavalry Division spouses this week to determine how the Army can better meet their needs.

Led by West Point associate professor of sociology Dr. Morten Ender, the team will be surveying and interviewing as many as 2,000 First Team spouses during their 10-day stay at Fort Hood.

We want to be a voice for spouses and represent their concerns to the leadership, Ender said during an interview Monday. That is the goal of the research we do.

Visiting Fort Hood at the request of division commander Maj. Gen. Pete Chiarelli, Ender and his team will be focusing their efforts on determining if spouses feel the Central Texas support system is adequately meeting their needs.

I think (Chiarelli) just wants another source of information to reinforce the efforts of what he already sees, Ender said. I think he wants to know if the things they have in place are working and if there are things that could be better.

Ender said the idea for the teams visit to Fort Hood originated when he met Chiarelli last summer in Iraq. Originally sent to Iraq to survey the Iraqi people, Ender eventually found himself surveying 1st Cavalry Division soldiers.

We asked the soldiers about morale, how they felt about their level of training, how they felt about family issues, what their attitude was toward their mission, and if they planned to stay in the Army, the researcher said. As I finished up that project, (Chiarelli) asked if we could do something similar for the families back at Fort Hood.

The surveys Ender and his team have been handing out to family members include many of the same issues as the surveys given to the deployed soldiers. Both surveys deal with communication issues as well as relationship issues and attitudes about the Army.

This is a standard pencil and paper sort of survey, Ender said. We leave a lot of room for them to write in their own words the issues that are important to them.

Ender pointed out that all surveys and interviews are completely confidential, and spouses have the right to stop the survey or interview at any time.

We want to give these spouses an uncensored voice in the sense that it wont be filtered up through any chain of command, Ender said. We want to be able to identify systematic issues, connect past research and be able to identify problems these spouses are facing.

Although the team will only be in the area until Friday, Ender said the survey research will continue.

We will put together a report in the next month or so and make some recommendations, Ender said.

To obtain a survey and a self-addressed stamped return envelope or to set up an interview time, call Pfc. Melissa Weaver at 287-4123 or 291-7885.

For more information on the study, contact Ender at morten-ender@usma.edu.

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