FORT LEE, Va. (Army News Service, Aug. 10, 2007) Aca,!" Army leadership assured that more emphasis would be placed on Family readiness last month as Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. directed that $100 million be immediately applied to Family programs Army-wide.

The effects are already reaching such installations as Fort Lee, Va., where family readiness support assistants have been assigned to the 49th Quartermaster Group.

Already working part-time as the 49th QM GroupAca,!a,,cs Family readiness group liaison, Michelle Zeller was a natural fit for the unitAca,!a,,cs FRSA position. Increased funding has also led to FRSA positions with the GroupAca,!a,,cs 240th QM Battalion for Niesha Porter and 530th Combat Sustainment Support Bn. for Victoria Hunter.

Having worked at Army Community Service, the Red Cross and on-post housing helps her to better understand the needs of Families and her new role as an FRSA, Mrs. Zeller said.

"I think the biggest qualification for this job is genuinely caring for military Families, their welfare, education and quality of life," she said. "It means being very flexible, being able to identify the various needs of Families and knowing how to provide them with assistance."

A former Soldier herself, Mrs. Porter has seen her husband deploy twice. She said she wants to make the lives of other military Families easier during deployment.

"I served seven years on active duty, and I married a Soldier," Mrs. Porter said. "I feel it is safe to say that I will be able to understand the needs and concerns of our military Families. I've been involved in the FRG program both as an active volunteer and as someone needing assistance."

Gen. Casey and his wife, Sheila, told Families at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, this week that FRSAs will gradually become available to each deploying battalion. FRSA work directly for unit commanders with duties typically including preparing pre-deployment or redeployment activities, developing newsletters, coordinating Family readiness training, and serving as a link between garrison support agencies and the unit.

"Overall, I would say that our leaders take the program very seriously. The support we get from command is great," Mrs. Zeller said.

The newly assigned FRSAs will attend training for their new jobs in Atlanta this month.

Gen. Casey and Secretary GerenAca,!a,,cs directive ordered the immediate hiring of 703 FRSAs for active-duty units, 181 for Reserve units and 127 for National Guard units.

(Mike Strasser writes for the Fort Lee Traveller.)