FRG Round-Up addresses transition, integration issues
June 4, 2009
2nd Infantry Division commanders, senior staff, senior enlisted advisors and Family Readiness Group leaders met to discuss issues surrounding the transition and integration of Division Soldiers and Families May 27 at the Dragon Hill Lodge in Yongsan.
The "FRG Round-Up" emphasized quality-of-life and Family issues, including sponsorship, housing, facilities and education.
Maj. Gen. John W. Morgan III, the 2nd ID commanding general, set the tone of the event in his opening remarks, focusing squarely on the themes of "transition and integration."
"We're just trying to make conditions on the peninsula better for every single person who serves here," he said, adding that the Division and FRG leaders sought to achieve "a balance, a predictability and a quality of life that is truly second to none."
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Boyer, the 2nd ID G-1 (personnel officer), briefed the assembled leaders on sponsorship issues within the Division.
Boyer described sponsorship as a dynamic process that "makes Soldiers feel like part of your team," starting with initial contact and "continuing until they are fully integrated" into their unit. He emphasized the importance of prompt contact and engagement at the appropriate level. Boyer also noted effective sponsorship helps units make mission as well as improves Soldiers' quality of life. "We need to educate them so they make intelligent decisions that benefit not only Family readiness but unit readiness," he said.
Brigade commanders followed with reports on sponsorship efforts within their own organization. The commanders outlined aggressive programs designed to reach incoming Soldiers as early as possible. Several linked effective sponsorship programs to "tour normalization," noting that early notification and thorough engagement ensure Soldiers understand tour options and maximize the pool of Families willing to embrace command sponsorship opportunities.
The Division leaders continued their focus on attracting Family members to their areas of operation. Command sponsorship, Morgan emphasized, "should be the default position, not the exception. Soldiers on orders for 2nd ID should be told Korea is a two-year command sponsored tour with an 'all others' option available rather than seeing the 'all others' option as the expectation and command sponsorship as the exception to the rule."
Key leaders noted Family members play a critical role in the tour normalization effort - a lynchpin in the Division transition campaign.
"When spouses and Family members start talking about Korea the way they've been talking about Germany forever that'll go a long way toward achieving our vision of normalization," said Col. Thomas Graves, the commander of the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
Col. Larry A. Jackson, the Area 1 garrison commander, and a series of briefers addressed Family, recreation, education and housing issues crucial to achieving tour normalization on the peninsula - particularly in the northern portion of the Division AO. Spurred on by detailed questioning from the Division commander and other leaders, subject matter experts addressed education and housing issues at length.
Education officials discussed Department of Defense, international, home and virtual school options for Warrior Families and the issues associated with each. Housing officials discussed the status of efforts to secure quality lodging for command sponsored Family members in towns prominent within the Division footprint, especially Uijongbu and Dongduchon.
"We're just trying to take care of our command-sponsored Families," said Clara Greenway, the Area 1 housing director. "It's our responsibility to the Soldiers and Family members to make their transition as easy as possible - to make sure they're taken care of. It's our responsibility to provide good customer service and ensure they receive adequate quarters."
The event concluded, appropriately, with the recognition of two outstanding Division Family advocates and the singing of the Warrior March. Morgan recognized Ungi Anderson and Emily McDonald for their "outstanding support and care for Soldiers and Family members."
Participants described the event as encouraging as well as informative and instructive. Veterans of the FRG forums, for instance, noted significant progress during their tenures on the peninsula.
"Every time we come, there's progress being made," said Anne Lewis, who attended her fourth FRG Round-Up May 27. Her husband, Lt. Col. Matthew Lewis, commands 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade. "During the last year alone we've seen so many things change for the better. The outlook for the future is very positive, not only within the brigade but in the Division and the peninsula as a whole."
"This was a good event," added Janet Fortune, whose husband John serves as command sergeant major of the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team. "It's good to see everything is plugging along on track."
Organizers described the event as the latest in a series of constructive forums dealing with Family and quality of life issues.
"This is a forum for commanders, command sergeants major, spouses and community agencies to come together and discuss ongoing issues raised by FRGs and Families," said Maj. Gary O'Sullivan, the deputy Division personnel officer. "Medical support, schools and a commissary for K-16 are big issues right now. This gives us a chance to touch on issues raised during previous FRG Round-Ups.
"Since 2nd ID is spread out across the peninsula," he continued, "it's good to bring them together to share information - we accomplish a lot of 'cross-pollenization.'"
The forums, added Maj. Peter Hui, the 1st HBCT personnel officer, "properly inform commanders to help them make informed decisions."
According to Division personnel officials, 2nd ID key leaders and FRG members regularly conduct "roundup" events. The next Division FRG Round-Up is scheduled for July 22 at Camp Humphreys.