What is it? Family Readiness Groups (FRG) are integral to the morale and support of Soldiers and families before, during and after deployments. The group functions as a communications mechanism, bringing facts to the families from command, and serving as an informal chain of concern to bring issues back up to command. It is structured by the needs of the unit; some FRGs are large, very active and all encompassing, to include parents, friends and significant others in their information chain. Others are small, tailored only to the immediate requirements of a non-deployed unit.
Another system newly in place is the Virtual Family Readiness Group (vFRG) web system, which provides all of the functionality of a traditional FRG in an ad-hoc and on-line setting to meet the needs of geographically dispersed units and families across all components of the Army. Unlike FRGs that are immediately located with the unit, the vFRG links the deployed Soldier, their family, the FRG leader, the unit commander, the rear detachment, and other family readiness personnel on their own controlled access web portal to facilitate the exchange of information and provide a sense of community, using technology to automate manual processes and provide enhanced services and communications.
What has Army done? The Army has put muscle behind FRGs, making them mandatory at various levels of command. This ensures that there is always a structure ready to go ‘live’ when the need arises. However, for those widely dispersed FRG members, the vFRG was initially created to support the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division’s OIF deployment. Since then, follow-on features have been developed and beta tested by eight major units, representing all three Army components. Upon the completion of a successful beta test, the vFRG fielding began in February 2006. The development of vFRG sites is limited to Battalion and higher commands in an effort to serve the most Soldiers and families in the Army, to include the Guard and Reserve. Waivers are available for separate companies and other non-Battalion units with special needs.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future? The Army continues to strengthen support to families by adding new elements, i.e., the new Family Readiness Deployment Assistant program, and to add additional command web portals to the vFRG web system daily. In addition, the vFRG is being redesigned to address feedback from users and administrators and improve end user experience. Marketing of these resources to commanders and families is an integral part of the way ahead.
Why is this important to the Army? Family Readiness Groups are critical to maintaining the strength, morale and information chain for Soldiers, families and Command. Elements such as the vFRG program have proven to be overwhelming successes as additional information sources directed to family members of Soldiers within the command. FRGs leverage command and families; vFRG leverages technology for providing up-to-date information and connecting families and commands.