Fort Rucker hosts FRGs to help close gaps, educate
March 21, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 21, 2013) -- Family readiness group leaders and advisers came together March 14 at Wings Chapel to share best practices, and to learn about the installation and the resources available to them.
The purpose of the gathering was to get FRG leaders from all over the installation together to inform them and help them network to create even more effective groups, according to Leigh Jackson, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Family readiness support assistant.
"The day intended to give them information about U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, the garrison, how all the units fit together, as well as give them information resources," she said, adding that FRGs are as informational as they are social.
Many familiar faces were seen at the gathering and many gave presentations, including the Directorate of Public Safety and Army Community Service representatives, Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general.
"Today is all about Family readiness, which is an important aspect of what we do in the Army. Our chief of staff says that the Army is the strength of our nation, our Soldiers are the strength of our Army and our Families are the strength of our Soldiers, and that is absolutely true," said Mangum.
"Family readiness groups serve three purposes -- communication, community, and caring and compassion to take care of one another. This year the Army has invested [more than] $1.2 billion in Family programs, so the Army Family Covenant is alive and well. We [will have] budgetary and fiscal challenges that we are going to have to face, but the Army will continue to fund Family programs at the maximum extent as possible," he continued.
Some topics at the event were furloughs, sequestration, the role and responsibilities of FRGs, how Fort Rucker is structured, what type of training is conducted on the installation, safety, organizations and units on post, security and FRG rules.
"The mission is important, the Families are important, but the mission doesn't happen without your help," said Angel Mangum, wife of the commanding general.
Another large portion of the day was communication, and that went over well with attendees.
"Communication is key within the FRGs. Let [spouses] know that you are there if they need them and reach out to every spouse because everyone has something to offer," Angel said.
"I know that a lot of [spouses] enjoyed listening to Mangum because of his beliefs on proper communication and reaching out," said Jackson.
The event also talked about developing single Soldier activities, how to break FRG stereotypes and stigmas, how to get more people involved, successful events and invisible barriers that the FRGs face, such as a spouse's Soldier's rank.
"The FRG participants were able to get a lot of good ideas and network and understand that even if they have a really small unit they can partner with another unit and do activities together. I think we created some good friendships and some good networking today and built bridges between the FRGs," said Jackson.
The main success of the day, according to Jackson, were the breakout sessions where the FRG volunteers broke up into four groups, which served to provide networking and idea sharing.
"It's about caring for Soldiers and their personal values and needs. The FRG forum is an avenue to educate FRG advisers, FRG leaders and commanders on resources at Fort Rucker, the importance of Family readiness and how to make Family programs successful," said Jackson.
The garrison commander spoke on many topics, from his role at Fort Rucker to successful on-post programs, from sequestration to potential new facilities such as schools and a lake lodge complex.
"This is a fairly small installation, but it is one of the more important ones when it comes to the capabilities we have," he said. "We can't do everything, but we will try to do the things that are most important to the most people here. That is important to us… to do the most with what we have."
A lot of times FRGs are only thought of as a part of deploying units that are left behind, but McRae said that is "simply not true."
"FRGs are the lifeblood of any organization that passes out information and makes sure people know what is going on. No one can really sympathize with the struggles, strains and the challenges that you face, and you are so resilient," he said.
Many of the attendees thought of their fellow FRG members as Family and that the most important lesson learned from the event was making sure that they welcome new Family members.
"We are Family. I think we need each other all the time, not just for deployments, and it is important to emphasize that," said Lara Herrera, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment FRG leader.