I see this question a lot on websites and blogs that I follow: “Are you active in your Family Readiness Group? Why or Why not?” The problem is that FRG’s are often practically non-existent in reserve units. I’m sure we have an FRG officer, who though is the question. I have no idea. And the more I talk to other reserve spouses, the more I realize that I’m not the only one that can’t answer that basic question.
Your standard FRG has a liaison from the unit and a spouse of someone in the unit that acts as a leader. There are other members who have various rolls and then there are meetings to disseminate information or to get ideas for various events. Or, at least that is my understanding based on listening to my active duty friends talk about it. Am I wrong? It’s very possible.
I’ve always felt a little like we reserve families are missing out on something that could be great. Do you hear spouses complain about the meetings? I know I do. But just like anything in life, Family Readiness Groups can be good or bad depending on who is in charge. They can just as quickly become a place for spouses to gossip and gripe as they can be an amazing place to find support and resources. But the point is that we have them for a reason.
I was a member of our units group at one point. I was a point of contact for an assigned group of families and spouses during our units last deployment, as well as being in charge of checking on those family throughout that time. I saw first hand how AWFUL an FRG can be in the wrong hands. I have been significantly less interested in being a part of one in the future as a result. But I’ve also spoken with many people who have had amazing experiences. But in order to have any experience you have to have people who are willing and able to participate.
But how can you get people to participate in an FRG group that is centered around a unit that is spread across multiple states and sometimes across the country? I have a few ideas, but the reality is, you can’t have a “group” if there aren’t members who are able to participate. What you end up with in a Family Readiness Person, which is significantly less impressive sounding and very much so less effective.
I’m almost positive that we have a spouse who is in charge of our so-called Family Readiness Group. I have no idea who it is, nor how to contact them, nor if they even actually do anything for us. And I think that is a shame. Though technically we should have one, reserve units have the unique challenge of not being able to have members. I’m half a state away from our unit’s HQ and that’s not half of Delaware, it’s a three hour drive. I wouldn’t be able to afford the gas to drive there and back for regular meetings. And even during the deployment that I was a member, we only met one before they left, and once when they got home to disband it. I truly hope that someday, there will be a better way to bridge the gap between reserve unit families to allow us to seek and find the same support from FRG’s that our active duty counterparts enjoy.