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HINESVILLE, Ga. – Elaine R. Tuten, chief executive of Fort Stewart Georgia Federal Credit Union here, knows how important war news is to her employees, which is why the TV in the CU’s board room “is on all the time and we send out an alert to our staff to come in and watch when there are new developments.” Indeed, the $57 million Fort Stewart CU is one of scores of military CUs across the country where war news can often come painfully close to home for employees like Gisella Vasquez, loan officer, or Lisa Cebolla, regional Hinesville manager, both of whom have Army husbands serving in Iraq. “Elaine is very understanding about how hard it can be sometimes to concentrate on your job,” declares Cebolla, who admits being “fully focused” on her daily work is a challenge. While constant worry is now part of her daily routine, there is comfort “when Elaine continues to ask if we have heard from our husbands and what they are saying,” says Cebolla. A recent conversation with her husband, Sgt. First Class Carlos Vasquez, was particularly poignant for Gisella, the Fort Stewart staffer when her 11-year-old son, Carlos, Jr., asked his dad, “Pop, are you alive?” And when their infant daughter, Bianca, was crying in the distance, Dad simply said “let her cry” as he wanted to hear that sound. After not hearing from her husband, Sgt. First Class David Cebolla for three weeks, Cebolla recalls frantic moments forgetting her cell phone and a missed call while getting her three children assembled in the grandparents’ home. “We finally talked to him, and it was wonderful,” but not after rushing blocks to round up her children. Tuten, who insisted her employees tell their stories to Credit Union Times, described her employees as “heroic” in manning the home front while their husbands, who are members of the Army’s Third Infantry Division here, serve their country. “These are women who are coming to work every day and doing their job while their husbands are in harm’s way,” said Tuten. For those wives, “that kind of anticipation is awful,” said Tuten. In an April 2 letter sent to the CU’s dependent members offering assistance “not as your financial institution but as fellow Americans,” Tuten wrote “you and your loved ones have our highest admiration.” Those serving in the Middle East, she concluded have as a mission “to defend freedom-ours (is) to support them in any way possible.” -

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