Today, I want to provide you an overview about the Family Readiness Leader. I thought the best way to begin this post is with a quote.
“The old saying about the Army family, “If the Army wants you to have a family, they’ll issue you one!” is no longer operative in today’s Army. And the family is no longer seen as an extension of the soldier; now it’s quite the opposite. Today, clearly, we know soldiers are extensions of their families. So our changing Army and its missions point to the critical need for strong FRGs—effective FRGs—to help enhance soldier and family morale and success at home and at work. Effective FRGs can even help our soldiers accomplish military missions. “
—Mr. David White, Chief, U.S. Army Family Liaison Office Washington, D.C.
The Family Readiness Group (FRG) is an essential part of Army readiness and morale. We rely on our families for support, and they rely on each other when we are overseas. The FRG is organized into two echelons, the unit FRG and the battalion FRG. The ARNG also has the Joint Services Support (JSS), which is a program of NGB.
The JSS is comprised of family programs, ESGR, Yellow Ribbon, and is also where you register for Strong Bonds events. While the FRG should not have Soldiers in leadership positions, the unit Commander is still responsible for the program. What does this mean?
The CO should have goals for the FRG and how they integrate into the overall unit plan. They should also encourage Soldiers to be a part of the FRG in terms of participating in activities. However, the FRG should be led by spouses, not by Soldiers. There are a few reasons for this. One, Soldiers deploy – so where does that leave the FRG if they were in charge of it? Two, having a civilian in charge makes it less of a military function and more of an informal function.
Who should be the FRG Leader? It can be the commander’s wife, but if that isn’t what is best for the unit, the commander should consider that. The best person for the job with the best understanding of the FRG should be in charge of it. At the battalion level, a spouse that has been married to the Army for a long time should be in charge, because they will have the most experience for how to direct the FRG at both levels and ensure that the goals are met.
The FRG Leader should be coordinating with the commander to ensure that all information that is able to be disseminated, will be. The commander has a duty to ensure that they are communicating with the FRG, especially when deployed.
What kind of traits make a good FRG Leader? I believe that delegation is important, as well as being a team player. You might be in charge, but you have to be willing to listen to other spouse’s ideas. Sometimes the newer spouses might have a better idea on how to do things.
You should be able to set goals, have great communication, and be organized (I would be a terrible leader if that was the primary requirement). A good FRG Leader must also remain calm – other spouses are looking to you for reassurance and information. Please keep your attitude positive and be enthusiastic about your job. This list could go for any leadership position, but I think it encompasses the FRG pretty well. Avoiding gossip and upholding standards is also important.
The most important skill to succeed as a FRG leader is DESIRE. The person in the position has to really want the job. Having someone in this position who doesn’t want to do it won’t work!
The bottom line is that the FRG Leader is an important asset to the unit commander, in fact, they are a part of their special staff. It is important to establish rapport with the FRG Leader (if you are not their spouse) and should seek to enable their success. The success of the FRG will improve unit cohesion and morale.
What are your experiences with the FRG? Have any of you been an FRG Leader? If so, leave a comment and share your thoughts.