WASHINGTON - Fourth Infantry Division and Fort Carson Family Readiness Group leaders attended the 2009 Association of the United States Army Meeting and Exposition to participate in the FRG Leader Training Symposium Oct. 4-8 in Washington.
The FRG leaders participated in three family forums: a two-part team building event for FRG leaders; a Forces Command FRG Leader Training Symposium; breakout sessions and tours of the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Mountain Post FRG leaders attended the events at the invitation of AUSA to glean the most current information to assist Fort Carson FRGs in taking care of the Army's Families, said Ginger Perkins, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson FRG Advisor.
"What we take back will help make the 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson FRGs stronger," said Perkins, the wife of 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Commanding General Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins.
During the first Family forum, "Army Families: The Strength Behind the Soldier," held Oct. 6, Shelia Casey, wife of Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey, spoke to the FRG leaders about coping with deployments.
"The Army supports the Families and the Families are supporting each other," said Casey.
Despite this support, there are Army Families succumbing to stress and fatigue due to the tempo of multiple deployments and placing the welfare of the nation and the Army before their own, she said.
"It is a must that you find balance, take care of yourself so you are able to take care of your Family," Casey said.
The Army chief of staff spoke briefly to the group and thanked the FRG leaders for all of the sacrifices they have made in support of the Soldiers.
"We've done away with 15-month deployments, and we're trying to get 48 months dwell time for every 12-month deployment," he said.
In return, the FRG leaders applauded and thanked him for the Army's demonstrated dedication to supporting the Soldiers and their Families.
At the conclusion of the first forum, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh; the Army Chief of Staff; and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston re-signed the Army Family Covenant to renew and confirm their commitment to Army Families.
After the second forum, FRG leaders separated into groups and toured Capitol Hill and the Pentagon, while others greeted wounded 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers recovering at Walter Reed.
"The experience was unforgettable," said 2nd Battalion 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team FRG leader Stacie White. "I was impressed by the way the staff at Walter Reed cared for the Soldiers and their Families."
The "Warrior" Soldiers were also in good spirits, she added.
"It was an awesome experience to be able to see our heroes," said Andrea Waguespack, FRG leader, 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th BCT.
"The Pentagon trip was incredible, as well," said Waguespack. "We were able to see the memorial there and to read the stories from the families."
Some of the FRG leaders who visited Capitol Hill met with Sen. John McCain, who thanked the leaders for their continued support of America's Soldiers.
After the tours, the FRGs participated in an open forum with the commanding general of the 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson.
This forum provided the FRG leaders a chance to voice their concerns and receive answers from the senior leader of the Mountain Post, said Cora Burke, co-FRG leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).
After the last Family forum FRG leaders assembled at their hotel for breakout sessions, said Patricia Smiley, co-FRG leader, HHD 71st OG.
During the small group meetings the leaders discussed ways to improve the FRG's effectiveness in its mission to support Soldiers and Families, said Smiley.
"We don't normally get this chance so this will be a very helpful part of the conference," said Jennifer Jacobs, FRG leader 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Inf. Div.
The four-day AUSA meeting offered leaders a chance to gather together with their peers from posts around the Army and learn new systems and standards of operations, said Burke.