Private Tito Turner, F Co., 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, attached to 3/7 Inf., his wife Marla and their son Daniel, 1, speak with ACS marketing representative Kristi Hinson about the services ACS has to offer at the 3/7 Inf. FRG Open House, Sept. 3.

<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </B>- The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is committed to the wellbeing of its Soldiers and Family Members, and the Cottonbaler Battalion is doing their part in this commitment through an initiative dubbed "Operation Able Baler."

The two-week operation allowed leaders within the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment to become more familiar with their troops and their Families and helped to build a stronger, more independent team for the upcoming deployment.

During the operation, first-line supervisors and Family Readiness Group leaders reached out to 3/7 Inf. Soldiers by visiting them and their Family Members at home.

"Visiting Soldiers and Families at their home offers a friendlier, softer way to connect with them, rather than just sending e-mails and making phone calls," said 3/7 Inf. FRG Advisor Peggy Cleveland. "You don't want to wait until two weeks before you deploy to start fixing issues. We are trying to get our team ready now."

Readying the Cottonbaler team included hosting a battalion FRG Open House at Club Stewart, Sept. 3.

"The Open House (helped) to educate and inform our Soldiers and Family Members of the services available to them both on and off post," said 2nd Lt. Joseph Garcia, 3/7 Inf. chemical officer and native of Albuquerque, N.M. "At my last unit, FRG events were always at the last minute.

Scheduling an event like this so far out (from deployment) is helpful for Families so they can get prepared now."

Representatives from Red Cross, TRICARE, Child and Youth School Services, Balfour Beatty Communities, Hinesville YMCA, Military One Source, legal, Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Army Community Service were on hand to provide Cottonbaler Soldiers and Family Members information about what their agency has to offer.

"We are here to inform Soldiers about all that is available to them and to answer any questions that they might have," said DFMWR representative Angela Wilson-Gardner, who handed out goodies at her information booth.

Additionally, the unit chaplain, and Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers and Retention representatives were available to speak to Soldiers. Company FRGs also set up information booths and handed out deployment handbooks and calendars.

And though the 4th IBCT's deployment schedule has not yet been determined, the 3/7 Inf. is taking time out now to focus on their Soldiers and Family Members.

"We're one big Family," Cleveland said. "And, I want all of our Soldiers and Families to know that."

Cleveland said the battalion FRG is focusing on team building and has incorporated other events such as Spouses' Night and child play groups. She said they will continue to host battalion-wide events before, during and after the next deployment.

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