FRGs, programs help spouses connect
June 30, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- While it may be easy for Soldiers to feel connected to their units after relocating to a new duty station, it isn’t always the case for many military spouses.
It may require some extra effort for spouses to feel a sense of belonging to the Army lifestyle, but there are plenty of opportunities at Fort Rucker.
“It’s disappointing that some military spouses stay cooped up in their houses the whole time they are at Fort Rucker and never venture out to explore all the great opportunities and friendships that are available to them, said Deborrah Cisneros, Family Readiness Support Assistant.
Fort Rucker has numerous organizations and programs in place to ensure that military spouses have access to information, fun and friends. Participation in a Family Readiness Group is a great way for spouses to be involved and connected to information about their Soldiers’ jobs and to meet other like-minded military spouses, according to Cisneros.
“The whole purpose of an FRG is to ensure that Soldiers and Families are able to utilize military and community resources effectively and efficiently, and they have to know about them to do that,” she said. “FRGs are constantly putting out information to keep Families updated with changes and updates, but not only that, they are a great way to get to know people.”
FRG leaders, who are volunteer spouses, are given the freedom and flexibility to choose how they want their group to function, she said. Some FRGs organize social events, like Bunko night, while other groups choose to meet at the dog park or at a coffee shop off post.
She said while the primary focus of an FRG is to disseminate information, Cisneros wants to make sure spouses are given opportunities to build lifelong friendships and hopes that they can feel a sense of belonging to their spouses’ units.
For spouses living at Fort Rucker without their Soldiers due to a deployment, extended training or an assignment that doesn’t include their Families, Ruth Gonzalez, Relocation Readiness Program Manager, said Army Community Service offers a program called Hearts Apart.
Hearts Apart provides a point of contact to help spouses find services and information that they need to help them get through time apart from their Soldiers, she said. The program offers help providing resources and information that Families need while Soldiers are away and it helps them to network with other Families who are going through the same thing.
Hearts Apart events take place once a month, can include pool parties, bowling, girls night out, and group participation in other events hosted by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Gonzalez said.
“We are here to help you. When your Soldier is gone you have a contact and someone who is watching out for you. You can use us as little or as much as you want. You don’t have to attend events or be an active participant for us to keep up with you. We have monthly activities, resources, someone to talk to, and weekly newsletters and emails. We offer support to the entire Family,” she said.
Another organization for military spouses on the installation is the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club, said Christin James, FRCSC president.
FRCSC is an all-encompassing group of military spouses from all different ranks and military operation specialties, James said.
She said the organization hosts monthly luncheons and other events, from fashion shows to murder mystery dinners. They also participate in community service functions, from toy drives to scholarship awards, from August to May. The Super Signup event for this year will take place Aug.18 at the Landing, James said, and she encourages all interested spouses to attend the 40s-themed event to see if the FRCSC is right for them.
James also recommended that spouses sign up for Army Family Team Building classes offered though Army Community Service. She said the classes she participated in at AFTB changed her whole perspective on her husband’s career and made her feel empowered by giving her the tools she needed to be a successful military spouse.
“You can’t expect someone to come knocking on your door to say, ‘Hey, I know you’re new. Let me tell you everything you need to know.’ You’ve got to be proactive in finding out information yourself. I wasn’t for a long time. I was shy. I was intimidated. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, and it took one person telling me about AFTB classes and it opened up a whole world of things that I never knew about. One small step can lead to a lot, whether it’s with the FRG, the FRCSC or any other group.”
The FRSA and FRCSC both have active Facebook pages that are regularly updated with information (Search in Facebook for Fort Rucker Family Readiness Support and Ft Rucker CSC). More information about Hearts Apart and AFTB classes are available at the ACS office in the Soldier Service Center, or at www.ftruckermwr.com/ACS .