FRG – Family Readiness Group – is it for Parents?

September 10, 2008 · Filed Under Deployment, Military Parents, Parents News 

I’d love to say – YES!  But sometimes it’s not.  First of all, FRG = Family Readiness Group.  These are designed to assist families, either when deployed, or at home.  They are usually designed for spouses but there have been many parents who are members of their servicemember’s FRG.

I’ve been asked what they do, and how they work.  The first and most important point – your servicemember has to get your name on the list!  Before you deploy – he or she MUST put the name of the person he wants to receive information on a list.  Without your soldier doing that – you will not get the information, you will not be allowed to get it either!  Privacy issues are paramount. You have to make sure your servicemember lists your name, phone number and addresses (both email and snail) with the FRG.  This is the ONLY way you will get actual information.

Once you are on that list – make sure the FRG leader (who is usually a volunteer or a group of volunteers) know that you want to be active, that you want to help. Personally, I never had any contact with my son’s FRG – and the FRG at my husband’s unit for his first deployment was horrendous – so we made our own group.  I hope you will be active in whatever group you join.

IF you are involved with the FRG of your son’s unit – please let us know how it’s working, how you became involved.



5 Responses to “FRG – Family Readiness Group – is it for Parents?”

  1. Diane on September 10th, 2008 2:16 pm

    A Parent Network was formed for my son’s battalion just about the time they deployed in late April. We started with just a Battalion Parent Coordinator, but by early June, regional coordinators had been added to help her out. We were given lists of Marines who had filled out the appropriate authorization form ahead of time with their family members contact information. We didn’t have any e-mail addresses, so we started phoning all these families attempting to get e-mail addresses. Once we got them, each regional coordinator sends information as it becomes available to the families on their list. We’ve had monthly newsletters from the command in Iraq, devotions from the Chaplain (some were obviously written specifically for the families!), as well as things the parent network has gotten involved in, like sending care packages to the entire battalion! We sent one package for the 4th of July, and a second package is in the mail right now. We’re also organizing a homecoming t-shirt/sweatshirt that families can buy so that we can be a “sea of red” when they come home in a couple of months.

    It’s been rewarding for me to be a part of the network, and has meant a lot to the families to be kept in the loop. We don’t receive a lot of information for obvious reasons, but for families anything is good!

    We (the regional coordinators) have also been a resource for the families to contact when they have questions. Interestingly, most of the questions I’ve gotten have been related to the slowness of mail or to not hearing from their Marine in several weeks. Because I’ve also had slow mail situations, and periods when I don’t hear, it’s been easy for me to share my own personal experiences and that helps reassure the other families.

    My recommendation is to get inolved in a parent network if one already exists, and to help get one set up if it doesn’t. A group of us parents “encouraged” our FRO to help us get one going, starting a couple of months before deployment. Most of our communication comes through him and the battalion parent coordinator.

  2. Kathy Magorian on September 11th, 2008 1:30 pm

    My son is a member of the National Guard, so “FRG” becomes Family SUPPORT Group, but it sounds like much the same entity – families supporting each other during deployment. Family is more than spouse and children – especially if the soldier is single. That’s why I made sure my son had our names on his contact sheet before his first deployment. Now that he’s getting ready for a second deployment, I made sure to tell him again, even though he’s married, that his dad and I wanted to be on the contact list – not to move in on his wife, but to be able to get together and receive news about his unit, with other families – spouses, kids, parents and even sometimes grandparents. A family group shouldn’t exclude those people who are important to a soldier’s life….Our current group has two “lead volunteers” – both of whom are spouses. They organize and plan monthly activities while the guys are deployed. They use e-mail as well as snail mail to send updates and information about news that can be shared openly. They also organize a calling tree – an important line of support when there is an incident and families should hear the news before it hits the radio or TV. They ask for help when/if needed and the support of the state family readiness office is vital, especially in times of tragedy. Other important information that is shared includes everything about legal paperwork and insurance matters to what to expect when your soldier comes home – same things our soldiers hear, but may forget or may not think it’s worth sharing. This weekend, the guys have their regular drill and are beginning to get all their documentation, medical/legal, etc in order before they deploy. It’s boring for them – lots of standing in lines. So, to make sure they know we’re thinking of them, the lead volunteers asked for snack trays and goodies from families. I made a huge batch of snack mix and divided it in individual bags, put it in a nice basket and added it to the other treats that will be taken to the armory. Just a reminder to these guys that as a mom, they are all important to me – they’ll have my son’s back and will be his family when he’s gone. I think the important thing for families is to share with others who are experiencing the same fear and questions when our soldiers are deployed – there is comfort in this. As Diane stated in her post – if you aren’t involved in a parent group and want to be, work with the FRO to get one started – you won’t be sorry, and will be happy to have the support.

  3. Some Soldier's Mom on September 12th, 2008 9:10 pm

    My exposure to FRGs — both from the many spouses I know as well as the many parents — is that for the most part, they suck. I KNOW that there are exceptions… The problem (as I pointed out in a recent blog post) is that they are run, for the most part, by volunteers who are in the same boat as every other spouse of the recently deployed: they are suddenly single, working parents trying to work, raise the kids, run a household AND cater to the needs of the other spouses in the unit.

    Because Guard units are typically local to a community, the FRGs involve (and are sometimes run by) parents. In the past, the involvement of parents and non-spousal family in the FRGs has been an afterthought (as in my son’s unit site saying, “…and parent’s [sic] might find this site useful, too.”)

    But I think the services are starting to realize that those who remain involved with soldiers (whether that be parents, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, etc.) need all the information the spouses get — especially in the areas of recognizing and dealing with TBI and PTSD. After all, when they come home from war, we, too, must deal with the aftermath.

    and I can tell you from personal experience that the information about PTSD, TBI, Medical boards and discharge did NOT come from the Army or the FRG — I had to find it all on my own. I wonder how many single soldiers are “out there” with no support — not because parents or others don’t want to stay involved, but because they are simply unaware?

    I’m working to help this change.

  4. LAW on September 12th, 2008 10:39 pm

    And we’ll both be working for this type of change in Las Vegas, when we have the voice and those that need to listen will be there!


  5. Semper Fi Wife on September 14th, 2008 2:27 pm

    I am the KV advisor for my son’s unit. I mostly have not had anything to do because it’s been a (knock on wood) very quiet deployment and our coordinator is the best. We have alot of parents who are Key Volunteers so in the reserve unit model of FRG, it really can be fore parents as well as spouses.

    That being said, sometime last week, I’m pretty sure I was burned in effigy in Iraq. We got an email titled “newsletter” which contained no news at all.
    Reserve units had a demob process and since they couldn’t give us specific information, I did what I thought was an intelligent thing and asked them what a general demob process looked like.
    I was told be “be flexible” whereupon this old and cranky Marine wife told them that I knew how be flexible but since this wasn’t a flexibility issue but an information one, I would ask again what a GENERAL demob process looked like.
    Turns out upon reflection, they DID have some specific information to pass on to us…but there were an awful lot of passive-aggressive swipes taken on me to get there.

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