Soldier Send Off

Even on their off days, when they're out of uniform, the men and women of the Nebraska National Guard's 67th Battlefield Brigade are on a mission.

Sunday it was operation barbeque.

“For the kids, this is as much their event as it is the soldiers going away so it meant a lot to me to walk around and see every body having a good time, said Captain Robert Rodgers.

For the park picnic organizer Captain Rodgers and his family of four, the food, friends and fun was a way to work off nerves before the 162 soldiers leave for Afghanistan this month, fifty-six of them will leave on Tuesday.

And it was a way for his wife, Nikki, to mingle with the many family members present as she takes on the leadership role for the family readiness group.

It's a support group that helps loved ones left behind cope without their deployed soldiers.

“I think this was a great start, there were so many family members of all ages that came out to show support for their soldiers but it also shows they want to be involved.” said Rodgers.

It's involvement the Rodgers admit they'll need as the husband, father and friend finishes preparing himself and his unit for the first overseas deployment of his career.

A year–long deployment that brings anxiousness and excitement to all the onlookers at Antelope park.

“You can't also let the nervousness shy you away from what's going to happen. This is part of their job and so some of the things they love to do. We just look at it as just one more part of being in the military families and military itself,”  Nikki said.