By Spc. Joe DeesDecember 19, 2013
Family readiness groups from A Battery and 578th Forward Support Company of 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery held a Wonder Woman Ball Dec. 13 at Louise D. McMahon Hall in Lawton.
The event was organized by Janine Grevious and Vanessa Norman, FRG leaders, to celebrate their volunteers' hard work and dedication to mission accomplishment in support of 1-14th FA Soldiers deployed to the United Arab Emirates.
"We want our volunteers to feel appreciated," said Grevious. "When your husband or family member deploys you put in a lot of extra work without much recognition, so this is a chance to recognize these wonder women's hard work and dedication."
FRGs are established to provide support to Soldiers and families in times of deployment or separation by enhancing the flow of communications and providing mutual assistance to one another to develop resilient families. Official activities and events provide opportunities to help one another solve problems, send care packages and "shorten" the time separated from loved ones.
"If I had not gone to that first FRG meeting, I don't know how I would have handled this," said Ashley Barre, whose fiance is deployed, "but these new friends understood every problem that arose and have made this deployment feel shorter than it could have."
The ball resembled a typical Army ball in all facets but one: there were no Soldiers. The women of the 1-14th FA FRG still dressed in their finest gowns, filled the dance floor and dined on fine, Italian fare before the requisite Molly Pitcher punch ceremony.
Guest speaker, Laura Batule, Army Volunteer Corps program manager, led the punch ceremony after a light hearted speech that kept the crowd laughing at her stories of the Army wife.
"This ball is all about fun and recognition, but mostly having fun," said Norman. "These ladies have worked so hard these past eight months and they deserve an opportunity to get dressed up, go out and celebrate."
The months have not been easy on the Soldiers or their families, but perhaps none were as difficult as those experienced by FRG member Angela Murray. During the course of her husband's deployment, a close family member died, she experienced a health crisis that required hospitalization and she lost her job.
"I won't say I never cried," Murray said, "but I never had to cry alone. My FRG friends have always been there for me when I needed them, and I always tried to be there for them. I think we've kept each other together."
Part of the FRG's mission is to reduce stress and promote readiness, a mission that was thoroughly accomplished at the ball. While stress from their ordeals sat within the attendees' hearts and echoed in their stories, none was seen on the faces, heard in the laughter or was apparent in the dancing smiles of the Wonder Women that evening.
"We have definitely accomplished the night's goals," reflected Norman, "everybody seems to be having fun and to have forgotten their troubles for even a few hours. I think this shows that when deployments come, we will always be ready."