We spend a lot of time on this website talking about leadership development and Army specific topics (not always beneficial for civilians unless they are interested in learning about the Army). There is one component that encompasses civilians, more so than anything else, and it is called the Family Readiness Group.
How exactly did the Family Readiness Group (FRG) start? What is the history behind it?
We as leaders are the first to step up and say that the family is what helps us keep doing what we are doing, that they are the reason we succeed. We need them, and everything we do is for them. They stay at home while we deploy, and hold down the fort and handle everything so we don’t have to.
Nobody would argue that with a solid support network, our military jobs are much easier.
That being said, the FRG has been around since the Revolutionary War, and has only evolved since then. During the Revolutionary War, it was a basic support system. When the men were off fighting, the women needed others to bond with and support each other.
The women also supported the troops directly – anything from medical, to clothing repair was done by the families. During this time, a “Pounding Basket” was started, where the families donated a ‘pound of food’ to help the new families on post get situated. Army pay was not even close to what it is now, so that food was a great deal of help. Some could say that the FRG was a necessity, as meeting established families on post could have affected survival.
Mrs. George Custer could have been called the first FRG leader. She took responsibility on herself to console grieving widows after Little Big Horn. During that time, widows got nothing to help them transition from being an Army spouse to being a widowed civilian, which understandably could cause a lot of problems when great casualties are suffered.
Traditionally, the commanding officer’s wife is the post FRG leader. These early groups were called Coffee Groups, which sounds much better to me than FRG. I know I love my coffee, and you probably do too.
As the Army evolved and grew larger than just one unit per post, the different organizations also evolved and grew. A lot of these organizations had to be privately funded, meaning they were not using Army funds. These programs could involve anything from schools, gyms, and the chapel; to Boy Scouts.
It wasn’t until Army Community Services (ACS) was formed, that the Army recognized officially that the Army community needed a support network.
The FRG as an organization was first documented in the early 1980s, when it was called the Family Support Group. What stands out as interesting to me is that it changed from Support to Readiness, which indicates preparedness for anything.
Since 9/11, the need for a good FRG is more important than ever. With units deploying more than once, and very often, newer Soldiers and their families need the support network of those who have been there and done that.
In short, you can see that the FRG has a long and storied history, and that Soldiers’ families have always helped each other and disseminated information as needed. Families have always supported each other in good times and bad. We have also learned that the FRG has adapted and evolved with the Army, further showing how amazing our military families are.
What do you think of the FRG in relation to the Army? Do you think it’s necessary? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below, and let me know your experiences with the FRG during your career, or if you are a spouse and have been a part of the FRG.
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