A structured and supportive family readiness group (FRG) can make it easier for military spouses to cope with the challenges they face. Unfortunately, not all spouses have the good fortune. FRGs can be inactive, nonexistent or poorly organized.
Military Spouse Central‘s Adrienne May is the spouse of a National Guard service member and has had experience with an ineffective FRG. She managed to find a way to get information and support:
“Mostly, I just talked to a bunch of the spouses and the ones who talked back I keep in contact with pretty regularly,” Adrienne said. “We kind of feed each other info that we get.”
Making your own message pool is just one option. Check out a few more ways to combat a lagging or nonexistent FRG:
Spouses may be unaware their FRG exists.
One of Adrienne’s tips for those struggling to find a solid FRG is to make sure you get added to contact lists. The lists are voluntary so giving your information will ensure you get the information and signal your interest.
Some new spouses expect an invite to an FRG or a similar group once they enter the military realm, but that isn’t always the case. Some leaders may be extremely busy and not be able to extend personal invitations or seek your contact information. Try to call or email spouses and find a way to get on the list for newsletters or email updates.
Some spouses decide to make Facebook pages for their unit as a way of communication. “As long as you follow OPSEC rules, it can be a good way to connect with other soldiers and spouses in a non-pressure way,” Adrienne said.
New military spouses especially should learn all they can about OPSEC and why it’s so crucial for military family members.
On the Left Face MilSpouse blog, commenter Michelle (TAW) said she took FRG matters into her own hands. Though she did not have an official FRG charter and couldn’t officially raise money, she worked to bring families together for support.
“When someone needs a babysitter they know who to call,” she wrote. “When we all knew our guys were heading from the MOB station to overseas, we all sat online half the night and chatted while each waited to receive our phone call from the sand.”
Another spouse mentioned their unofficial group met regularly and were currently voting on T-shirt designs to represent themselves. They have a phone tree and encourage spouses to report any problems or struggles they’re facing. The team has also created a care team for casualties and other tragedies.
Adrienne makes it a point to volunteer for and attend every event the military unit has. Even if the unit is inactive, they still host holiday parties or other get-togethers.
“I do my best to go, no matter how inconvenient or silly it seems,” she said. “In National Guard or Reserve families, it can be hard to get to know your spouse’s unit.”
Adrienne chooses to use events as an opportunity to meet others, despite the lack of an official FRG. Networking can be what you make it. If there isn’t an official group, consider starting an unofficial group. If your FRG doesn’t get together enough to create strong bonds, offer suggestions for activities.
Photo courtesy of USAG-Humphreys