Author’s note: This article is dedicated to Beverly Clark, my first FRG Leader who has shaped me into the hands-on military spouse that I am today.
For those of you who’ve experienced myriad successful and not-so-successful Family Readiness Groups throughout your military journeys, don’t fret because this is totally the norm!
Do you use your past experiences to enhance or hinder expectations of your current FRG, or would you rather sit this one out and focus your energy elsewhere?
To take it one step further, have you ever said, “I’ve had a bad experience with FRGs before so there’s no way I’m getting involved” or “I’d love to get together with other families because my civilian friends just don’t get it”?
If so, read on. Is there a “perfect” FRG?
To truly look forward, it’s important to know the history of where, when, and why FRGs came into existence. According to the Army FRG Leader’s Handbook, FRGs have early roots among Army families, who banded together during war or tours overseas or other isolated locations, to provide information, moral support, and social outlets to their members.
The Army focused sharply on family readiness as a result of lessons learned during the Gulf War from 1990-1991. On 1 June 2000, the Department of the Army branded the term Family Readiness Group to emphasize the need for readiness and self-sufficiency among Army families in the modern Army.
To reference DA Pamphlet 608-47, the FRG is “an organization of family members, volunteers, soldiers, and civilian employees belonging to a unit/organization who together provide an avenue of mutual support and assistance and a network of communication among the members, the chain of command, and community resources.”
Unit FRGs consist of all assigned and attached soldiers (married and single), their spouses, and children. This membership is automatic, and participation is voluntary. Extended families, fiancées, boy/girlfriends, retirees, DA civilians, and even interested community members can be included as well.
With that being said, do you feel FRGs can play an important role, both positive and negative, in your military experience? My answer is a resounding “yeas!” as this has been 14 years in the making of our military journey both CONUS (stateside) and OCONUS (overseas). I feel our early beginnings into the Army were most definitely shaped because we were stationed in Germany, thousands of miles away from family and friends. We were forced to make our own way, and we chose to facilitate that path through our FRG.
Our first introduction to FRG was at battalion level. Our battalion commander’s spouse was the FRG leader so I would (and still do) base everything off of her leadership. And man, was she a phenomenal leader! Bev led by example. Her leadership style was driven by compassion, dedication, vision, communication, hard work, and good ol’ tried and true experience.
Her over-the-top execution of what a fantastic FRG leader looked like has forever shaped my vision of what an FRG should model—families first, always.
Is there an opportunity in your FRG? Is there time or energy left at the end of the day for you to contribute to the success of your FRG? There is no such thing as a perfect FRG, but you have the ability to make a positive impact in yours, whether it be large or small, by holding a leadership position, attending an event with a smile, or volunteering at any level.
You have the power to contribute to the success of your FRG. Kudos and a huge thank you to FRG leaders, volunteers, soldiers, and family members that contribute to the success of your FRGs. You are my heroes.