Monday, August 19, 2013

The Value of Your FRG

Do you know the value and potential of your Family Readiness Group? To find out, take the self test below and choose the statements that you identify with most. Keep track of your answers and I'll meet up with you at the end so we can evaluate your FRG savvy!

The FRG's main purpose is to...

A) be a social group where I can meet other spouses.
B) provide me with training and information so that I am better able to take care of myself and my family during my Soldier's extended absence.
C) fundraise, gossip, and provide a source of income for 'direct sales' representatives.

In FRG meetings, its ok for me to...

A) complain about the war, military benefits, my Soldier's pay, and the people who wouldn't promote him/her.
B) listen to the information and participate by asking questions, making suggestions, and talking to the other spouses.
C) be suspicious of the other spouses' intentions, refuse to make eye contact or speak to anyone, and run for the door as soon as the meeting is over.

All FRG leaders and volunteers are...

A) independently wealthy, so they can loan me money until payday.
B) fabulous like mine! Wait, it's impossible for them to ALL be alike. Change my answer to human.
C) rank pulling, gossip mongering, and backstabbing so I shouldn't give any of them a chance.

If I have a problem with another spouse in the FRG, I should...

A) call my Soldier's command and try to get the offending spouse's Soldier demoted or otherwise in trouble.
B) discuss the issue like adults with the offending spouse privately.
C) put the FRG on blast for harboring foul individuals like that.

If my FRG is not being run in a professional manner, I should...

A) complain every chance I get. Someone, somewhere is bound to do something, eventually.
B) bring my concerns to the commander and FRSA along with ideas on how to get back on track and a willingness to either volunteer to make changes, or support the people who will.
C) stop going, convince others to do the same, warn newcomers, and never attend another unit function again. Anywhere. Ever.

During a deployment, I can count on my FRG to...

A) babysit my kids, mow my lawn, fix my car, and make sure I can talk to my Soldier while he/she is deployed.
B) alert me to activities my kids and I might be interested in so that the time will pass quicker, fundraise just a little so that they can pay for some of those activities, and update me, as information is available, on my Soldier's return.
C) pester me about getting involved and then talk about me behind my back when I refuse.

I volunteer with my FRG so I am entitled to...

A) certain privileged information and respect from the other spouses because I am an integral part of the unit.
B) nothing, other than the respect due to other human beings.
C) nothing. I don't volunteer.

The rank structure within the FRG spouses goes like this...

A) CO, FRG leader, then whoever is next in line based on highest rank.
B) There is no rank structure, because spouses don't have rank. Volunteers are equal partners in the success of the FRG.
C) There is no rank structure, because spouses don't have rank. But someone should tell that to the other FRG members.

So, how'd you do?

If you got mostly A's, it's likely that you will experience unnecessary hardship during the next deployment or extended training exercise. The main focus of the FRG is providing you with the opportunity to learn skills that will help your family to be self sufficient. There is a time and place to accept help from others, but expecting it as a foregone conclusion will get you into a lot of trouble. FRG's are to be seen as a RESOURCE not a RESCUE. You will do your Service Member a big favor if you allow him/her to leave without worrying that you, your family, and your finances will completely fall apart without them. With that comes a great deal of responsibility. Ask for help when you need it, but don't be surprised when your FRG leader tells you that your SM can't be recalled for one reason or another, or if she directs you to an Army or community program when the money runs out before the month does.

If you got mostly B's, you recognize the value of your FRG the way it was intended to be. Members like you are the backbone of the FRG and are what make it a good experience for the other spouses in your unit. You've probably made many lasting friendships. You and your family are more likely to be ready for anything when it comes time for your Soldier to deploy. You don't survive deployments, training exercises, and PCS's you thrive during them!

If you got mostly C's, your mistrust of the FRG program puts you at risk of missing out on many aspects of the Army community. Occasionally, seasoned spouses choose to avoid the FRG because they feel the information is a lot of "been there, done that" kind of stuff. If you wish the topics covered were done so differently, you might try presenting the information at your next FRG meeting rather than sitting in the audience. If the crux of your problem lies with gossipy, drama prone spouses, then a breath of fresh air might be just what your FRG needs. Suggest changes and offer solutions. Be creative, and know that eventually, we all PCS. Jump in when you can or support the folks who make positive changes. A well timed note of encouragement to volunteers who make a positive impact can mean the world! Most important of all, please stop bad mouthing the FRG program. Each group is as different as the people who make them up. Just because you had a bad experience once, doesn't mean you will again. It also doesn't mean that your group can't change when new people come in. Give newcomers a chance to form their own conclusions about the group before you scare them off. When relocating to a new duty station, it can be hard to find friends who understand the nuances of military life. There is nothing more frightening than being a new Soldier's wife in a new place without any familiar faces. Give these newbies a chance to form friendships and gain the skills you have without trial and error.

Maybe you're somewhere in the middle of it all. If you have a group of terrific friends and have a resource for all of the Army programs and community events, then you're likely a very resourceful person who makes friends easily in everyday situations. This is to be commended! However, you probably don't see much value in the FRG since you have other valuable avenues of support. Go ahead and do your own thing, but please remember to be respectful towards the spouses who value the FRG.

So, do you have a good grasp on the value of your FRG? Will you give yours a chance if you're a C?


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