Family Readiness Group Part of Unit’s Success Email This Story Print This Story

Returning soldiers and their families praise their Family Readiness Group for support provided during the troops' deployment.

U.S. Army Sgt. Lawrence W. Flaig, a reservist with the 1st Infantry Division Detachment Rear Operation Center, holds his son close to his heart after a welcome home ceremony held in the unit’s honor. Flaig was mobilized with the unit for 366 days in support to Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Witherspoon

Family Readiness Group Part of Unit’s Success

Returning soldiers and their families praise their Family Readiness Group for support provided during the troops' deployment.

By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Witherspoon

7th Army Reserve Command
BAMBERG, Germany, March 14, 2005 — The Army Reserve’s ability to train, maintain and sustain itself is crucial to its success during military operations, such as Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, but just as crucial to its success is a well established Family Readiness Group.

The consensus among a group of returning soldiers and their families is that the Army Reserve’s 1st Infantry Division Detachment Rear Operation Center’s Family Readiness Group is a prime example of how a family support group can contribute to a successful mission.

The Center's Family Readiness Group not only made sure that the unit family members were taken care of, but also tended to the needs of their soldiers in Iraq.

Now that the unit has returned after being mobilized for 366 days, the soldiers cannot praise the Family Readiness Group enough for the job they did while they were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“This unit has one of the best [Family Readiness Group] I’ve ever seen,” said Master Sgt. Andre Paige of the1st Infantry Division Detachment Rear Operation Center. “They sent out newsletters, packages, e-mails, you know, stuff for everybody. The biggest thing was they kept us informed on what was going on with our families, which helped put a lot of our minds at rest so we could concentrate on our mission.”

"Thankfully we had a strong Family Readiness Group that communicated with us and kept us informed. It was wonderful how everyone stayed in contact with each other, no matter how far away you lived,” Army spouse Leslie Lowen.

U.S. Army Col. Michael J. Sinnott, right, commander, 1st Infantry Division Detachment Rear Operation Center, presents Elin K. Schaffer a certificate for the outstanding job she did with the unit’s Family Readiness Group. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Witherspoon
Lowen said the Family Readiness Group helped bring family members together who had something in common: a loved one away defending freedom. “Some people don’t know what it’s like to have a soldier deployed,” said Lowen, tears filling her eyes as she gazed at her husband. “Some people don’t know the impact it has on the family left behind. Thankfully we had a strong Family Readiness Group that communicated with us and kept us informed. It was wonderful how everyone stayed in contact with each other, no matter how far away you lived.”

Col. Michael J. Sinnott, commander of the 1st Infantry Division Detachment Rear Operation Center, knows the importance of a Family Readiness Group and decided to leave one of his mobilized soldiers at the unit in Bamberg to support the Family Readiness Group while the unit was mobilized.

“I actually mobilized 25 soldiers, but took only 24 with me,” said Sinnott. “The 25th soldier, Master Sgt. William Swanson, stayed behind as my rear detachment commander. His sole mission was to represent me and take care of our families.”

Sinnott said with help from other members of the Family Readiness Group, Swanson produced a monthly newsletter, facilitated Family Readiness Group meetings, kept family members in contact with their soldiers in Iraq, mailed soldiers care packages, and made sure family members’ concerns were tended to.

“We captured from the beginning that taking care of our families while we were gone was going to be significant,” said Sinnott. “Master Sergeant Swanson did a great job in making sure that mission was accomplished and the [Family Readiness Group] played a big roll in our success by taking care of our families.”

“I got a lot of support from the active duty units here,” said Swanson. “I would go to their Family Readiness Group meetings and get ideas on how to make ours better.”

Swanson said once they got the Family Readiness Group going, the family members did a great job helping to maintain it.

“There were some rough times and it’s a different experience to watch someone else’s wife cry because they wish their husband was there to help them, but you deal with it and continue to focus on taking care of the family members and resolving what ever issue they have,” said Swanson.

According to Swanson, the 7th Army Reserve Command Family Readiness Group also played a big roll in their success by providing them essential information to pass on to the soldiers and family members.

Lowen said every family member with a soldier deployed should stay closely connected with their Family Readiness Group.

“It could definitely help ease a lot of their worrying and fears while their spouse is away,” said Lowen. “I know that my faith in God and the Family Readiness Group were strong forces that gave me the strength I needed to keep going. I’m just really glad my husband is back and I’m very proud of the job the unit did in Iraq.”

A strong Family Readiness Group can definitely be the supporting force needed to help family members through long deployments and mobilizations, such as the 1st Infantry Division Detachment Rear Operation Center's, but it can also be part of the supporting force that helps make a unit’s, soldier’s and family member’s mission a success.





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