In the dead of night, two men stand guard at the backdoor to a farmer's mansion. Groups of flappers begin to trickle inside the password protected party, the women donning feathered headpieces and jewel-encrusted dresses, the men in fedoras mobster-esque suits. From a distance, one could easily assume a 1920s speakeasy was underway inside, but this was just the beginning of a themed event recognizing volunteers for their outstanding contributions to local Soldiers and Families.
10th Combat Aviation Brigade honored the outstanding contributions and selfless service of its Family Readiness Group members with an event and awards inside the historic LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, New York, on January 23.
"It's important to take time to recognize and acknowledge our volunteers," said Allison Kane, an FRG advisor from 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry, which is currently on rotation to South Korea. "They don't do it for any glory or a prize, they do it out of the kindness of their hearts, but it helps to show them that they're appreciated, that we're thankful for their work, and we realize the sacrifices they're making for others."
Leadership from across the brigade attended, each taking time to highlight the hard work and comradery that fuels each FRG's successes. The groups' many generous acts were described during the gathering, from fundraising efforts to hosting events for the kids. After the brigade's recent return from Europe, single Soldiers found baskets waiting for them in their barracks rooms, packed with toiletries and home-baked goods, even their beds were made, all thanks to some long hours on behalf of the 10th CAB spouses being honored that night.
"We had our fourth baby recently and a lot of things didn't go as planned, but the whole battalion's FRG just rallied around us," said Lynette Kliethermes, a volunteer whose husband is the commander of E Company, 1-10 Attack Helicopter Battalion. "They brought us meals for two whole weeks. They were constantly making sure we were OK. It never felt like we were alone, through the whole thing. It's been like an extended family, like what you hear an FRG should be like, I feel like it really is here."
Volunteers socialized, sharing laughs as smooth 20s music played throughout the mansion. Each battalion awarded their volunteers with certificates of appreciation, its leadership offering heartfelt speeches about the spouse's commitment to the Soldiers and the well-being of the brigade. The volunteers, in turn, had some kind words to share about each other and the experience of being in an FRG.
"The FRG helps connect people," said Kane. "It's helped me step out of my comfort zone and, in a moment when you could really dwell on how tough life is, you're helping others instead. It brings you back to humanity and realizing that we're here to help each other. We're a community, we're military families, if don't help each other than we're kind of just lost in the wind, so it's been a really powerful experience in that way."
For those interested in learning more about their unit's FRG and how they can volunteer to better the lives of fellow Soldiers and their Families, contact your unit's Family Readiness Liaison.