If you ask someone the reason they don’t want to be a part of the Family Readiness Group, you will likely get a laundry list of bad experiences or simply bad word of mouth. Few will be able to give you a positive about the group immediately.
What if that changed? What if you had the power to change that?
In recent years, we have seen a shift in a lot of what used to be traditional roles. There are more dual military service members and more female commanders, which means the spouse of the commander doesn’t always step into the role of FRG leader automatically.
As these roles shift, a slight blur is created in the overall “rank structure” of the FRG, but is this an opportunity for a positive upswing?
As a prior service member, I wasn’t as apprehensive about approaching an FRG leader who was the spouse of the commander, but that’s not always the case. Often times, whether intentional or not, the commander and/or commander’s spouse can place a divide between themselves and the other spouses of the company. The other concern is that spouses worry that if they bring something up to the FRG leader, they may get their spouse in trouble because it would be viewed as jumping the chain of command.
The reality of the situation is this—while you will possibly encounter the spouse who brings everything up as an issue and plays the rank game, the overwhelming majority of the time, if it’s discussed, names aren’t brought up. The FRG leader may look to their service member for guidance as far as regulations go, but they are going to do the best they can to assist you without causing you additional stress or issues.
So what happens when the FRG leader isn’t the commander’s spouse?
Please be patient. I speak from personal experience. I have been the FRG leader to a single female company commander during a deployment to Afghanistan. While we maintained ongoing communication, it’s still not the same as when you are married to the individual. Currently, I am fulfilling the Battalion FRG advisor role for a single female Battalion Commander. While I fill that position, it’s still an ongoing work in progress.
I acknowledge that I’m a rarity—I’m the spouse of a Warrant Officer in a senior spouse role. While I don’t wear rank (anymore), there’s still expectations that come with certain positions. This position didn’t just become available though—it’s one that I have built a resume for over the years through volunteering and holding multiple positions. With that being said, this is where you have the chance to make a change. If you aren’t happy with your FRG, get involved! You have the ability to make a difference, take a step forward.
If you find that you aren’t having much luck at your immediate level, try checking with your local community services group (known as ACS on Army installations). They are always looking for individuals that are willing to help other families in the community, by becoming trainers, volunteering in the office, and more.
Be the positive someone remembers!