By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth (IMCOM)January 25, 2013
By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth
CAMP CASEY, Korea -- The need for full-time family readiness advisers in Warrior Country and improving job opportunities for military spouses are among key issues the wife of the Army's top general will pass on to her husband, she said during a visit here last week.
Linda Odierno, wife of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, made the comments while accompanying her husband on a Jan. 11 visit to Area I, also known as Warrior Country and home to the 2nd Infantry Division and U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I.
"Last time we were here we weren't able to come to Camp Casey because of the weather," she said. "So this time, we wanted to come back so that we could visit with the families and Soldiers in this area and just see how they are doing, because we think about them all the time and [are] interested that they are doing well and that they have everything that they need."
While the general met with 2ID Soldiers and received a briefing from division leaders, Mrs. Odierno toured Camp Casey in Dongducheon to talk with military spouses and get a look at some of the many quality-of-life improvements the Army has been making in Warrior Country in recent years.
At the Warrior's Club she heard from spouses on topics that included Family Readiness Groups, job opportunities, and services for children.
Wives told her Area I no longer has Family Readiness Support Advisers and they'd welcome having FRSAs assigned full-time. FRSAs are full-time employees who provide unit commanders and their Family Readiness Group leaders with administrative help in support of family readiness activities.
"One of our concerns here is that we lost all of our FRSAs," Linda Banister, wife of Col. Tracy Banister, commander of the 210th Fires Brigade, told Mrs. Odierno.
In Warrior Country, the spouses said, FRG leaders are typically first-time Army wives with lots of energy who volunteer their services.
"They don't have a lot of experience to fall back on and the FRSAs could help to fill that gap," said Banister. "Having them in the brigade would certainly help and they would definitely be utilized."
Mrs. Odierno said the matter would be one of the first she brings up to her husband.
On the subject of employment opportunities, one spouse told the general's wife that there are few slots available for on-post employment. Another said she considers the website for federal jobs not user-friendly.
On other matters, the spouses had high praise for Area I's services to children, including sports and other activities offered by Child, Youth and School Services.
Jennifer McLellan, who has five children, said she was pleasantly surprised last year when after arriving in Korea the Casey Elementary School staff contacted her and told her "that I could take advantage of any of the services the school offered" such as testing for her kids. It was support she hadn't even received in the states, she said.
Also during her visit, Mrs. Odierno stopped in at the off-post residence of a U.S. military family, saw Camp Casey's newly expanded commissary, the recently renovated Hanson swimming pool, and renovation work under way on the Casey bowling center, and toured the Casey Elementary School and Child, Youth and School Services.
"This is one of the best youth services that I have seen," she said. "I like the fact that they have a separate area for the teens, away from the younger children," she said.
Besides meeting with spouses at the Warrior's Club, she was also given briefings there on the 2ID's Master Resilience Training, which aims to help Soldiers and family members develop techniques for coping with the stresses associated with military life.
"I was impressed with the master resilience course and how involved the spouses are and how they took an interest in it to become trainers," said Mrs. Odierno. "I am glad that they are spreading the word about it throughout 2ID and Korea.
"I was very glad with what I saw today and the positive attitude of the spouses. They are embracing living in Korea and taking advantage of all that it has to offer."