I’m no stranger to the “going it on your own” life. In more ways then one it applies to the military life. For some it is the very essence of their world. For those of us in the National Guard or Reserves world it can be a daily thing. Having been stationed fairly remotely, without the conveniences of a standard base, find the kinds of support many of my online friends talked about was difficult, if not impossible. I have a couple of friends who aren’t even stationed in the same town, or even the same state, as their significant others unit. Many National Guard and Reserve Units are lacking in the support department, don’t have FRGs and don’t have the resources to provide remotely located spouses with the guidance they need to navigate these tricky waters of MilSpouseDom. For those that are girlfriends or finaces the waters can be even more treacherous to explore.
So, what can you do to stay afloat? One thing you can do is put together a Family Readiness Folder. I happen to extremely blessed with a husband who actively makes sure I’m connected in some way to his Unit, and he has an amazing boss, who feels more like family then a co-worker, having been the rock I’ve leaned on whether he knew it or not.
What makes a good Readiness Folder?
Contact Information is Key:
Gather together key contact information from your husband, the base website or anyone else you can get it from.
1. Family Services Contacts
- Family Programs local
- Family Readiness Assistant
- Youth Programs
- Air Wing Family Programs Coordinator (or other branch Equivalent)
2. Support Services
- Military OneSource Consultant
- Transition Assistance Advisor
- ESGR (Employer Support Guard/Reserve
- TriWest (for your area)
- ID Cards/DEERS
- Survivor Outreach Services
- American Red Cross
3. Wellness Team
- Director of Psychological Health
- Military Family Life Consultant (adult/family & child/youth)
- Personal Finance Counselor
- Suicide Hotline (national (800) 273-TALK)
4. Yellow Ribbon Program contact info
5. Your local unit or operations group contacts
- Group Commander
- Squadron Commander
- Operations Support Commander
- Director of Operations
- First Sergeant
6. Track down the list of FRG or Key Spouses, or maybe your s/o’s buddy’s spouse or significant other. Finding a connection with another spouse, girlfriend or family member connected to your husband is important, even if its just one.
Pre-deployment Information Form
Find one of these and fill it out before a deployment. This will have important information for the unit, like deployment location and time information, who your family is, who your child are, emergency contacts, information about you so that you can be located and specific concerns about the deployment. It is important that you are kept in the loop during a deployment.
Include an important dates section in your folder – drill schedules, special events, or local events that might be helpful to those stationed near you, and for those that are not. They may want to make the trek closer if there will be special base events or holiday events (especially for families). Our local base had Easter, Halloween and Christmas events for the kids. There is also usually a unit BBQ. For the National Guard many states have a State Military Ball where all branches affiliated with the Guard and Reserves in the area are usually invited.
What My Family Should Know:
This is a guide for all the things you should know, your family should know. It is also a great way to get the conversation going about topics no one wants to talk about. Lets face it, who really wants to have a conversation about funeral arrangements before anyone is actually passed on. Talking about those things is important none the less. For me, I wanted to confidently be able to stand my ground and specifically state that I knew exactly what my husband wanted. This may also force your significant other to have this conversation. If I could recount the stories that I’ve been witness too where that was never discussed and problems arose. Contact information going unchanged – never being changed from a parent to a wife, and other similar situations. Being married to an Eagle Scout, being prepared is a mantra around here. It never EVER hurts to be prepared…it can always hurt to be unprepared.
Here’s a link to a packet if your unit doesn’t have one. I can also probably get one of mine, so please feel free to email me if you feel the one linked to doesn’t work for you.
Many Family Readiness Groups on base have booklets for deployments and info ones to have around all the time. Seek them out. If you aren’t near your husband’s unit, but you are near another base, reach out to them! Currently we are nowhere near hubby’s home base, but close to so many. I am always actively seeking programs that we are eligible for. We have full rights to the MWR too. Last year we got a pool pase for a great deal. Sure it wasn’t the local neighborhood pool that I could walk to, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper. If you’re a mom look for a local MOPS group. The base here has one, but there is bound to be a local church that hosts one. Each one is different, and while all of them are faith-based, they are all different. Seek out other Moms groups in your area as well. There was more than one in the area we were in previously, faith based or not. They are out there! Look online for military support groups, or facebook. While many can have drama (what doesn’t in life anymore), I can tell you that I have made some amazing friends that I have 6yrs later, and many I eventually met in person. These ladies were my saving grace at times and I couldn’t be more thankful. Find out if your area has a local Blue Star Families. They have been an amazing connection for me.
So, I hope this helps and is a place to start for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me for clarification on anything listed here, as well as help tracking down the information for your local area. If you’re totally lost and wouldn’t even begin to know where to start PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE email me and I will help you!!!