Army-wide FRG Town Hall meetings identify opportunities
October 8, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A senior official from the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management's office spoke to Association of the U.S. Army's Family Forum attendees Oct 5 at the Washington Convention Center here, pertaining to the results of Army Family Readiness Group town hall meetings held at six Army installations this summer.
Kathleen Marin from the ACSIM office told those gathered for the annual Family Forums, which included 450 company-level FRG leaders from U.S. Army Forces Command units nationwide, about the concerns raised by Army Families at town hall meetings she attended at Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Fort Hood, Texas.
Marin said the Army is at a historic moment in its history; it has been fighting a war for eight years with an all volunteer force and the Families who love and support those Soldiers. Subsequently, she said this causes Army officials to look at how they can calibrate Army programs and services to meet the needs of those repeatedly deploying Soldiers and their Families.
With that in mind, the Chief of Staff of the Army challenged us at the two-year review mark to evaluate how well the Army is doing promoting and make available Army sponsored services, Marin said.
"My six-installation visit was just one piece of the feedback," she said. "There have been ongoing focus groups all summer from other elements..."
With the information gathered from the various focus groups and feedback sessions, Marin said Army officials can more easily and correctly prioritize their efforts and resources toward programs and services that need enhancement.
The programs and services Soldiers and Families at the six installations told Marin the Army should sustain include:
* Free, 16-hour respite care,
* Free class during a deployment,
* New Parent Support Program,
* Free fitness center classes,
* Military Life Consultants
Not only do these and other services, such as the 16-hour respite care, give spouses a break; but a quality break, she said. Many of the spouses related that they need their children safe and secure, so they can relax and do what they have chosen to do, during the break period.
Other than grocery shopping and other household chores, Marin encouraged spouses to take care of- and do something special-for themselves.
The opportunities for enhancement identified by Soldiers and Families at the six installations also involved the standardization and personalization of services to include:
* Child and Youth Services Registration,
* Institutionalize Family Readiness training,
* Command support toward Family programs and services,
* System training for FRG leaders to gain a broader awareness of available of services and programs,
* Venues of communicating and marketing available services and programs,
* How the services are administered to Soldiers and Family members.
Though the purpose of the feedback sessions was to evaluate how the Army is doing in providing Soldiers and Families with services and programs, Marin said she learned that military Families are picking up the slack where needed.
"What struck me most was that there is a lot of strength out there, and Family members are helping each other in absolutely extraordinary ways," she said.
Marin said the next step is to harness the power of all the Army sponsored programs and services to ensure they reach those who need them most, all Soldiers and Family Members.