OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Family Readiness Group leaders are fond of saying “Soldier readiness plus family readiness equals mission readiness.”

With that focus in mind, the 200th Military Police Command put on a training conference Aug. 5-6 for FRG leaders to enhance their abilities to help Soldiers and families.

The attendees came from locations spread out across the country, as the 200th, which is based at Fort Meade, Md., has units in 44 states.

“You cannot build a building without a solid foundation, so we are here to give you that foundation,” said James Cousar, the 200th Family Programs Coordinator, as he addressed the attendees during opening remarks.

Maj. Gen. Sanford E. Holman, commanding general of the 14,000-Soldier military police command, also took part in the conference and commented on the value of this training.

“Whatever units the FRG leaders are associated with will be more effective because of the tools we’re putting in the toolbox,” said Holman. “Even the veteran FRG leaders learned something.”
Additionally, Holman had a strong message to commanders regarding Family readiness.

“This is a commander’s tool, and as the senior commander of the 200th, I expect all of the commanders to be involved in FRG because it is a combat multiplier,” he said. “It just makes good common sense to take advantage of this resource.”

The conference included training on personality types, communication skills, team building, and managing conflicts. These are skills FRG leaders will use at their home units to organize volunteers to help Soldiers and Families through a wide range of challenges, said Cousar.

He said some examples could be connecting Families with academic resources if a child is falling behind in school or connecting Families with financial resources if there is a problem in that area.

The personality-types class was entitled “Insight,” and it was a favorite of attendee Jhoselyn Ramirez, the Family Readiness Support Assistant for the 11th Military Police Brigade, based in Los Alamitos, Calif.

“It’s going to help me adapt to different situations and personalities,” said Ramirez about the Insight class. “I’ll know how to approach different people and how to place them in different volunteer positions.”

Ramirez has worked in Family readiness for the 11th for four years and added that she loves helping Soldiers and Families. “I see it as a career, not as a job,” she said. “It’s rewarding because every now and then I’ll get a card, a call, or an email from a Family member thanking me. Even though they may be stressed out, they see how hard we’re working for them, that we’re all in this together.”

Paul McDermott, an FRG volunteer for the 306th Military Police Battalion in Uniondale, N.Y., also said the conference enhanced his leadership skills. “Every training session is a learning experience,” said the Army retiree. “We’re learning how to better communicate with our Soldiers, how to better understand their needs, the commander’s needs, and the Families’ needs.”

Perhaps Cousar best summed up why the FRG leaders, many of whom are unpaid, are so dedicated to selfless service.

“They don’t do it for notoriety or publicity,” he said. “These ladies and gentlemen do it because they love Soldiers.”