Who Needs a Family Readiness Group?
YOU, that’s who! I have held almost every position in the Family Readiness Group (FRG) from Key Caller all the way to Family Readiness Support Assistant and everything in between, while in these positions I’ve seen many spouse ask questions on Facebook Groups that were covered or could have been easily answered if the spouse attended the FRG Meeting. Military Wives Groups are awesome for finding good schools, gym, bakers, seamstress, dry cleaner, gymnastic program, basketball camps, etc. They are not the new FRG group, and I often see spouses given the wrong information when it comes to handling situations. Some groups may have administrators that are brand new Spouses who pass information they heard from another Spouse who’s Soldier heard it from another Soldier, who heard it from his friend who has been in for a long time.
I get that the FRGs have gotten a bad rap. People think they are filled with rank wearing, gossipy Spouses who have nothing else going on with their lives. To be honest, I have yet to see this in any that I have been involved in, The FRGs number one job is to be an information and resource referral group. It is meant to educate and empower families so they can be independent and resilient no matter if the Soldier is gone for a day or 18 months. It is supposed to give families the tools and resources to be able to handle any kind of problems or issues they may face during separations.
By attending FRG meetings you can voice your opinion on where the money your soldier helped raise is spent, the kind of activities the FRG hosts and get a copy of the training calendar. Before Deployments (weather combat, training, humanitarian)it is crucial that you attend the meetings. The Command Teams take over and set up Deployment Round Ups, Briefing, Meetings and Trainings. Often, these are mandatory to the Soldier but the spouse can choose to attend. But, if you choose not to attend there is no guarantee that your spouse will relay all the information to you and they may not be there when you need it.
Meetings held before typically cover how the pay will be handled, what pay entitlements the Soldier will receive, and which ones will be taken away. They will also discuss what benefits the families receive, such as hours at the CDC and discounts on Youth Sports/SKIES programs. They will cover other things such as duration of the deployment, how much communication should you expect if any at all, and the mailing address so you can send care packages and deadline for packages.
If something comes up during deployment, you can look back on the information given to you at this meeting to contact Staff Duty or send a Red Cross Message and what constitutes an emergency. Always go with a list of questions you would like answered, and if they aren’t covered by all means ask away. When you ask Unit specific questions in these Facebook groups, you have to be mindful that each Unit handles Deployments differently. One Spouses experience with a specific Unit will be different than the experience you will have with your Soldier’s Unit. It is always best to ask Unit specific questions to your FRG Leader, Command Team, Senior Spouse FRG Advisor, Family Readiness Liaison (Soldier). They are the best equipped to give you the Correct answer!