Soldier Readiness plus Family Readiness equals Unit Readiness

Soldier Readiness plus Family Readiness equals Unit Readiness

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Heather E. Leiby, who grew up in a family that is military connected and is now the spouse of a soldier, presented a passionate and comprehensive overview on family readiness training during a Military Family Forum discussion at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C.

The forum was titled “Soldier and Family Readiness – Identifying Needs and Leveling Expectations.”

Heather E. Leiby speaks at a Military Family Forum during the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition. (AUSA News photo)

Leiby, school liaison transition specialist with the Army Installations Management Command, has a life-long history in the military, from her grandfather, father, husband and son, all of whom served their country in one of the military services.

In her overview, Leiby offered a basic equation of the purpose of family readiness: Soldier Readiness + Family Readiness = Unit Readiness.

Over the past two years, Leiby has worked with a family readiness group (FRG) to create a Readiness Essentials for Army Leaders (REAL) manual, an effort that has resulted in what she referred to as the “FRG Smartbook.”

“We’ve learned a lot over the years,” Leiby said, “and the changing face of the Army has altered what we know as family readiness.” Formerly – as in “the old days” – “FRG leaders were the commander’s wife and the first sergeant’s wife.” No more.

Family readiness, as defined by the Army, is: “The state of being prepared to effectively navigate the challenges of daily living experienced in the unique context of military service.”

With that in mind, Leiby’s group has reached out to all components of the Army services and to individual commanders, soldiers, spouses, family members, among others, “We asked, ‘What do you want? What do you need?’”

The “Smartbook” was based on an extensive survey and covers “all the necessary bases” and applies to all quarters of the Army, so that a soldier transitioning from installation A will find the same action-based template and approach at Installation B.

The joint training manual applies to all the functional family readiness training elements:

  • Foundations
  • Command Team
  • FRG Training Leader
  • Key Contact Individuals
  • Family Readiness Liaison, and
  • Informal Finds Custodian

The “Smartbook,” that will be finalized in 2018, will be available on the Army website.

The forum concluded with a panel discussing soldier and family readiness, moderated by Sgt. Maj. Rodney J. Rhoades, Army Installation Management Command.

Panelists included Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Grinston, Forces Command; Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport, Training and Doctrine Command; Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl D. Lyon, U.S. Army Europe; Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher S. Kepner, Army National Guard; and Command Sgt. Maj. Ted L. Copeland, Army Reserve.

All the senior noncommissioned officer panel members agreed that a strong family made a strong soldier.

Davenport said, “If I we’re going to be serious about caring for our families, we need a sustainable family readiness group that is not seen as forced fun.”