DoD Family Readiness Council Meeting – #MilitaryMonday

On Monday the DoD Family Readiness Council will have another meeting.  I was able to attend the last one, and since I’m traveling I will miss this one.  The council is interesting set-up, the process is as well.  Today I thought I would share my thoughts with you on the last meeting.  I hoping to be able to watch or listen to the next one to keep you updated on what is happening with the process.

I wasn’t actually sure what to expect as I made my way through the maze that is the Pentagon, on my way to the Family Readiness Council meeting. What I do know is that for this average MilSpouse, it wasn’t anything I could have possibly expected it to be. A brief run down of what the Council is, actually makes me want to laugh because that ended up being a topic of discussion as the Council was coming to a close; and considering the fact that the Council until recently recently hadn’t made a great showing of themselves, I’m not alltogether sure that they are completely clear on what they are, or what people view them to be (or should be). The goals seemed simple, standardize programs across the branches and make sure those programs are doing what they say they are going to do. With the growing number of Joint Service Bases, especially here in the DC area, this is important. An Air Force spouse, shows up at an Army Base she should know what’s going to be there to help her and not have to worry about what programs there will be and how to get them.

me and fellow advocate Jeremy Hilton
That’s about the time they lost me.  Maybe I just don’t think in scientific terms, I didn’t do well in my research methods class in college.  I’m too busy thinking about what I need right now to get the job done.  All I kept hearing was “reseaching the research methods” and “evaluating the evaluation process.”  Really?   Evaluating the evaluation process?  At one point the sounds of dirision from military spouses around me could be heard, and our counterparts on the council weren’t so silent about what they thought.  Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere….maybe many somewheres.    It is unclear what the duties of the council is, it is unclear to your “average MilSpouse”, which is what I consider myself to be, what they are doing to help me.  I’m not sure that everyone on the council has a clear understanding of what is being done either.  The light at the end of the tunnel for me was the representative from the Exceptional Military Family Members group.  While Dr. Tyner probably had the least ammount of time to talk, that probably worked in his favor.  He was able to quickly and effectively share the goals of revamping the EFMP and what has been done, and is still being done to make it better.  Maybe this is where my issue really was.  When so many military families are in a constant state of movement, change and adapting, and all you see is long, drawn out conversations evaluating the evaluation process it isn’t any wonder you start to tune things out, and perhaps lose hope.  I know that’s what I was feeling.  
When it comes to making lives for military families easier, all I want to hear is how quicky we can get it done, and frankly patience isn’t something that I’ve reserved for situations like this.  But, like I said, I’m not good at all that science type stuff.  
What are your thoughts?
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Military Monday: Lets Make a Readiness Folder #militarymonday

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)
  • Chaplain
  • 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.

Important Dates

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.

Other Notes:

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!!!

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