Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
Family Readiness Group (FRG) at Fort McCoy and at every unit in the
U.S. Army is in place and functioning so deployed Soldiers can focus
on their military mission and not worry about the trials and
tribulations their families are going through at home.
Kevin Herman addresses personnel
attending a Family Readiness Group training session at Fort
(Photo by Tom Michele)
is the way Kevin Herman, Mobilization and Deployment Readiness Program
manager at the Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) office,
explained the FRG program.
unit in the Army, company level and above, is mandated by Army
Regulation (AR) 608-1 to have a Family Readiness Group, whether the
unit is deployed or not," Herman said. "‘Far Apart, Near
at Heart,’ is one of the slogans used by the FRG. The FRG is
designed and implemented to ensure all family members are aware of the
variety and multitude of programs and resources available nationwide
to family members, wherever that spouse, child, parent or sibling of
the Soldier is."
FRG is the ‘front line’ for family members to help deal with
issues that happen when their Soldier is deployed," Herman said.
"The FRG better prepares the family so the Soldier is reassured
that they don’t have to worry about the furnace and refrigerator
that malfunctioned, the car that quit, the kid that is sick, legal
services, even a death in the family. That support that the FRG
provides helps to create a higher level of morale for the Soldier so
can they can better accomplish their Army mission. It also reaffirms
to the deployed Soldier that their families are not left alone."
explained nationwide FRGs link family members with resources available
on the homefront, including appropriate businesses, services, Web
sites and programs. Two Web sites are Operation Homefront and Military
is a nonprofit community supporting troops by helping the families
they leave behind when the active-duty or Reserve servicemember
deploys. Operation Homefront provides emergency assistance and morale
to troops, to the families they leave behind and to wounded warriors
when they return home.
provides a 24/7 hotline for Soldiers and families to call for
assistance for a wide variety of issues from home maintenance, dealing
with depression, budgeting a checkbook, PCS moves, parenting and
relationships just to name a few.
are an organization of family members, volunteers, Soldiers, and
civilian employees belonging to an Army command. They provide support,
assistance and a network of information among their members, the unit,
and community agencies. Unit FRGs consist of all assigned and attached
Soldiers, their spouses, and children.
a family member automatically becomes a member of the FRG when their
Soldier becomes a member of the unit, participation in the FRG is
voluntary. Extended families, fiancées, boyfriends or girlfriends,
retirees, Department of the Army civilians, and even interested
community members, often are included as well.
spouses and family members, being active in the FRG will help give a
sense of belonging to the unit and the Army community — the Army
Family. It also will provide family members a way to develop
friendships, share important information, find needed Army resources,
and share moral support during any unit deployments.
Soldier’s chain of command ensures that the best information on what
Soldiers are doing is available to the FRG, which has its own network
for contacting people. The FRGs help every family to keep up-to-date
on what is going on, and, in addition to sharing information, the
group chooses goals and activities centered on supporting Soldiers and
are a great way for families to learn about their Soldier’s unit and
their co-workers, to obtain accurate and up-to-date unit information,
to meet with other spouses, and to enjoy planned social activities.
many organizations, the FRG meets regularly, and some commands
distribute newsletters to keep everyone informed.
Wapp Sawyer, Fort McCoy ACS director, said, "Because of the Army
Family Covenant, the Army recognizes the need for more family services
and support programs. As such, the Army recently funded and gave us
two more positions in the Fort McCoy ACS office, and Kevin is one of
them. The other is Lori Enghusen, an Information and Referral Program
sets the ACS staff at 11 employees. One of those 11 is a mobilization
specialist at the Soldier Readiness Center (SRC), and that specialist
is Laurie Hamilton.
gives a 20-minute briefing to Soldiers going through the SRC
processing in the first few days of arrival at McCoy when they are
going through the mob training scenario in preparation for deployment
to support Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom.
said much of the FRG’s mission is to put family members in touch
with appropriate resources and services.
are in place to support Soldiers and their families and to take care
of the families so Soldiers may concentrate on their mission."
FRG is important so that a family member may sit down with other FRG
members and be able to relate to each other, other people going
through the same trials and stresses," Sawyer said. "People
are more comfortable being in groups with other people who are in
similar situations like the ones they are going through."
said the ACS office maintains a spreadsheet of all units mobilizing
through Fort McCoy and redeploying back to McCoy.
also add other units to the spreadsheet that didn’t deploy or
re-deploy at McCoy, or those units that are already on alert, so we
have pertinent information available for family members."
a family member, usually a parent, although it is also often a
fiancée, calls us in need of information about their Soldier, we can
connect the family member with a contact person in the Soldier’s
unit," Sawyer said. "Those calls are often moms of single
Soldiers asking if the mother’s mail got through to their Soldier
because the Soldier hasn’t written back."
ACS organization and office is a Soldier and family support center
that usually is centrally located within the post. It provides Army
Families information, guidance, assistance, or problem solving in
personal or family matters that are beyond the family’s own
resources. Most services provided by ACS are free of charge to ID
aspect of Herman’s and Sawyer’s work at ACS is to train FRG and
also Rear Detachment Commanders (RDC). "The RDC is a Soldier
responsible for the operation of the FRG and who has been left in the
rear office or armory when the unit is deployed," Sawyer said.
Rear Detachment Commander is the communications link between the
family and the unit when the unit is deployed," she continued.
"The RDC relies on the FRG to ensure information is flowing to
the families and also from the Soldier and unit to families. FRG’s
are authorized to utilize office equipment, supplies, government
vehicles and space at armories so they may conduct business in
accordance with AR 608-1 Appendix J-3."
provide training for both FRGs and RDCs at our office at McCoy,"
Sawyer said. Both the FRG and the RDC classes are two days each, eight
hours a day, and are conducted quarterly. "We get family members
and Soldiers from a multi-state area for these classes. The Soldiers
range from specialist to lieutenant colonel."
is available by contacting Herman at 2111 S. 8th Ave., Fort McCoy, WI
54656; telephone (608) 388-3540 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.