Army Refocuses Soldier and Family Readiness Groups

Army Refocuses Soldier and Family Readiness Groups

Patty Barron, Director of Family Readiness, speaks Oct. 14, 2019, during a family forum at the 2019 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition. Other panelists include retired Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Col. Steve Lewis and Robert McCartney.
Photo by: Jennifer Milbrett for AUSA

The Army recognizes the need for community support as it shifts away from spouse-only programs to all-encompassing soldier and family readiness groups.

“Social support and connectedness are critical for family readiness and we recognize that,” Col. Steve Lewis, chief of the family programs branch in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, said while speaking at a military family forum at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition on Oct. 14.

Lewis said Army leaders have also recognized the impact of connectedness, which prompted recent changes to the family readiness program. They focused on three objectives:

  • Simplicity and flexibility to allow commanders to shape the group based on the soldier and family needs they see.
  • Connection and communication as core tasks.
  • Commanders leading family readiness groups.

Commanders need to be able to link family members and soldiers into one unit and connect them with information, resources and support, he said.

“As long as those three elements are in place, we’ve got a strong, viable soldier and family readiness group,” Lewis said.

Moderated by retired Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, a former Army surgeon general and a senior fellow for AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare, the panel also included AUSA’s Family Readiness Director Patty Barron and Robert McCartney, chief executive officer of the Barry Robinson Center. 

“[T]he foundation for family and soldier readiness really begins with the commanders establishing strong soldier and family readiness group and being able to effectively communicate with those families through multiple mechanisms,” Lewis said.

- Jennifer Benitz for AUSA