FRSAs: A Vital Link to Military, Families
What can my spouse do to better tolerate our separation? Where can we get help for a child that's having difficulties at school? Are resources available to help us manage deployment pay? Unit Family Readiness Groups ("FRGs") exist to help address these types of needs. As such, FRGs can be invaluable to deploying Soldiers and their families. Critical to FRG success, however, are the few who ensure that family support is coordinated and responsive. On July 14, those vital few, known as Family Readiness Support Assistants ("FRSAs"), and other military leaders participated in a Town Hall Meeting, here, at Kalakaua Community Center. Seventeen Hawaii-based FRSAs and an equal number of military leaders, to include current and future rear-detachment commanders, convened at Schofield Barracks to discuss certain administrative, training and performance evaluation issues, as well as hiring practices and policies related to the Family Readiness Support Assistants Program ("The Program"). The Program began in 2003 when the need to further address family readiness during times of rapid deployments became apparent. At that time, FRSAs were born. Their main duty is to provide administrative and logistical support to commanders, rear- detachment commanders, and volunteer FRG leaders. By taking the administrative burden off volunteers, FRSAs allow FRG leaders to concentrate on performing outreach to Soldiers and their families, thus preserving stability on the home front, according to Carolyn M. Killian, Well Being/Quality of Life Specialist, FRSA Program Manager, United States Army Pacific. "FRSAs are combat multipliers. They allow commanders to focus on the mission, while the FRSA supports the commander and the FRG leader which increases the level of family readiness of the unit," said Killian. Because of their importance to mission success, Killian believed that providing forums for discussion of specific concerns and issues impacting FRSAs is critical to program success. Senior military leaders agreed. "Public forums like today's Town Hall are critical to the success of the program," explained Col. Thomas P. Guthrie, Chief of Staff, 25th Infantry Division. "They provide the opportunity to dialogue, to publicly discuss concerns and opinions, and to basically get answers to specific questions about a resource and a program that is not only evolving, but critical to mission success," said Guthrie. Ms. Lori Garcia is the Family Readiness Support Assistant for 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Motivated simply by a genuine interest in helping Soldiers and their families better tolerate deployment, Garcia simplified her role. "I see myself as a facilitator," explained Garcia. "If I do my job correctly, the command knows exactly what is going on with the FRGs, and the FRGs know exactly what the command wants. Everyone is connected and no one falls through the cracks like they might have in the past." Garcia's rear detachment commander acknowledged her extraordinary value to his unit. "Lori's a critical piece of deployment for us," said Capt. Charles J. Romero, rear- detachment commander, 2-27. "Among other things, she frees up a staff officer or company commander which allows them to focus on preparing their Soldiers for [deployment] operations," continued Romero. "With the group of ladies that we have running the FRGs within our battalion and with Lori administering and coordinating for us, I have total confidence that we can take care of all our families '24/7,'" he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16