Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) were created to support the family members of soldiers, particularly during deployment. Most family readiness groups allow any family member to be a part of the group. Some, such as the FRGs associated with special operations units, may be more selective with who is allowed to receive information.
The FRG is described as:
“An organization of family members, volunteers and soldiers belonging to a unit that together provide an avenue of mutual support, assistance and a network of communication among the family members, the chain of command, and community resources.”
Spouses of married soldiers and parents of single soldiers are automatically members of the FRG. As stated above, some FRGs may allow other members as well. You can play any role you would like within the FRG. Some wish only to attend meetings and obtain information while others would rather take on a leadership role. Either is fine.
It is important to remember that as with all other spouse functions, there is no rank in the FRG. Anyone who is willing to hold a leadership role can regardless of who the soldier is or the associated rank. FRGs typically call on volunteers for duties such as creating the unit newsletter, being a member of the welcoming committee, organizing social functions, participating in fundraising activities or being a key caller (also known as point of contact) for other family members.
If your soldier is new to the unit and you have not been contacted by the FRG, be sure that your soldier has your name added to the roster. This is generally the only way that the FRG can know that you exist. You can also seek out the contact information for the FRG leader and call that person yourself to be added to the roster. In addition, many FRGs now have virtual FRGs set up online. To check to see if your unit is online, visit www.armyfrg.org.
Some FRGs are only active during deployments. While the soldiers are stateside, they may be relatively inactive. This was the case with our FRG. The actual activities and amount of activity can vary greatly from one FRG to the next. It is important to remember, however, that those running the FRG are just family members such as yourself who are volunteering their time and talent. There is no pay for volunteering with the FRG.
The FRGs can be an excellent source of information not only about your soldier’s unit but also about the resources and activities that are available on post. While they can refer a family member to these resources, remember that they generally will not be the ones who provide the service. For instance, you may approach your key caller about financial issues and they may refer you to AER but the FRG will not actually loan money. Or you may call with emotional issues that are best dealt with by a trained professional so they will direct you to those resources. They will not play the role of counselor.
If there is a need for a casualty notification, the FRG is not involved in that process unless you specifically request their presence. Notifications are handled by the Army and typically include a team of a chaplain and casualty assistance officer. The FRG will not be the one to notify you of a casualty that involves your soldier. They may, however, for rumor control purposes distribute the information after the family has been notified.
It is vitally important that you keep your information up to date with the FRG. If during a deployment, you go out of town, you need to let the FRG or POC know so that they will be able to find you in the case of an emergency. While involvement in the FRG is not mandatory, it is important to realize that this is your main source of information, particularly during a deployment. The unit leaders will contact the FRG leaders to disseminate information to family members. This is usually the only way to obtain official information about your soldier’s unit.
Above all else, please give your FRG a chance before you write them off based on the rumor mill. Even if your FRG is less than stellar, you can volunteer and be the person who works to turn that around. Be the positive force that you wish to see.