Arrowhead Family Readiness Group ready for deployment
December 9, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.- A small child peeks over the back seat of his family vehicle. His bright face peering through duffle bags to his father, pulling the gear that will sustain him over the next year from the trunk of their SUV. While he's unconcerned with events he doesn't understand, the mother next to him looks more concerned. Her husband leaves tonight, but he's not the only one facing a year of challenges.
The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division "Arrowhead" has begun it's deployment to Afghanistan in order to conduct combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While training events prepared the Soldiers of the unit for their mission, the "Arrowhead" Family Readiness Group has been working to prepare with the families as a whole.
"The FRGs have a lot of fun things planned for the families while the Soldiers are deployed," said Caroline Webster, 3rd Brigade FRG Advisor, "Events such as Christmas and seasonal parties to monthly informational meetings that will help the time pass more quickly. We want to give our families a bond with their unit."
Families of the brigade prepared for the deployment through such activities as Joint Base Lewis-McChord's deployment and information fair. The fair gathered all the agencies in one location that families needed to know about on JBLM prior to the brigade's deployment. Attendees were given information by installation finance, legal, Army Community Services, and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to name a few.
At the battalion level, town hall style briefings were conducted to teach families to navigate the challenges of a deployment. An additional Family Readiness Support Assistant guides the FRG information flow for the battalion volunteers. Quarterly FRG meetings at the company level also ensured information was relayed directly to the spouses and a framework of community could be established.
In addition to providing the framework for community and information flow, company FRGs plan various activities to assist their deployed loved ones. These activities include personal letters, newsletters, care packages, sundries and pictures to support their Soldiers, said Webster. The intent behind all of this is for the Soldiers to know they are not forgotten, maintain contact and allow those deployed to know their families are well taken care of.
"The FRG has been very helpful with us, getting us information via email and the meetings." said Elaine Scott, who came to see her husband off.
For young children of the Soldiers, their fathers or mothers leaving is hard to understand. The Family Readiness Advisor provides the command with continuity and access to lessons learned from previous deployments, including ways to help children better cope.
"She knows something is going on, she just doesn't fully understand what," said Krystal Adams, the wife of Spc. Michael Adams, referring to her daughter, "For now she'll just go with it until he's gone."
Above all, the brigade FRSA wants everyone to know they are not in this by themselves.
"Reach out to your FRGs, FSRAs and your rear detachment leadership. There are so many resources and help that are available and we don't want our families to go through this deployment alone." said Webster.
As the Soldiers leave, they understand both they and their families have a tough mission ahead.
"I've never been away from my daughter for more than a month," said Cpl. Sean Kelty, looking at his year-old daughter "I certainly don't look forward to it, but deployments are a fact of life."
As Kelty sits between his father, wife and little girl waiting for the bus to take him to the airport it's easy to see the mix of pride and love from his family. These same qualities are the things that they'll need most over the next year.