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Readiness Programs -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
As a Family Readiness Group Leader (or advisor to an FRG), what Army Regulations and/or Department of Defense Regulations should I be aware of?

Answer:
There are a number of official publications and documents that you should be aware of such as: The Army Family Readiness Group Leader's Handbook that is part of the Operation READY materials, AR 608-1 (Army Community Service Center); AR 340-21 (The Army Privacy Program); AR 672-20 (Incentive Awards); DA Forms 4162R and 4713R (for documenting volunteer hours), etc. The Army FRG Leader Handbook has a wealth of information regarding FRG funds, use of official mail for distributing FRG newsletters, and other important information regarding volunteer management and leading an effective FRG. Consult the Legal Services office in your military community regarding updates and changes to regulations governing FRGs.

Question:
How can I encourage all members of our Family Readiness Group to participate?

Answer:
“Operation READY” materials include the Army Family Readiness Group Leader’s Handbook that replaced DA Pamphlet 608-47, A Guide to Establishing Family Support Groups. In this handbook, paraphrasing DA Pamphlet 608-47, the FRG is “an organization of family members, volunteers, soldiers, and civilian employees belonging to a unit/organization who together provide an avenue of mutual support and assistance and a network of communication among the members, the chain of command, and community resources.” Members include all assigned and attached Soldiers (married and single), spouses and children, extended families, fiancées, boyfriends/girlfriends, retirees, DA civilians, and other interested community members who have an attachment to the group. Although membership is automatic, participation is voluntary. Getting members to actively participate in the FRG can be challenging. However, command support, fun activities, good communication, and sincere and effective leaders can help to increase participation. As a leader, keep in mind that group members are diverse. They include individuals of all ranks, genders, ages, races, religions, and cultural backgrounds. Some members may be single, married, dual military or single-parent families. Make sure to plan activities that allow all members to feel included. More information on Family Readiness Groups can be found in the Army Family Readiness Leader’s Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Army Community Service website at www.armycommunityservice.org or consult the other references listed here.

Question:
How can my spouse or family contact me in the event of an emergency when I am deployed?

Answer:
In the event of an emergency, the best way for a spouse or family member to contact the deployed Soldier is to call the local American Red Cross chapter. They have procedures in place to relay emergency messages to deployed Soldiers. If the emergency is serious enough to warrant the Soldier to request emergency leave (e.g., death of an immediate family member), the Soldier will generally need to have the Red Cross message to verify the information prior to his/her leave being approved. The Rear Detachment Commander can assist with this process as well.

Question:
How can the Army Family Team Building program benefit me?

Answer:
Army Family Team Building (AFTB) is a training program designed and delivered by family member volunteers. Level I classes are the backbone of the AFTB program. The focus of these classes is to help new military family members transition and adjust to the military lifestyle by teaching basic life skills and by providing information about the specific resources and differences one will find in their new Army environment. Level II is designed for those who typically have some experience as military family members and specifically for individuals who are interested in gaining or enhancing leadership skills. Courses that enhance their personal relationships, develop leadership skills, deal with crisis and conflict management, and improve communication skills comprise the core of Level II classes. Level III classes offer classes for individuals who seek to maintain and enhance current skills as well as develop more advanced leadership abilities. These classes include such topics as developing presentations and workshops, as well as looking at the big picture of the Army and how politics affects the military. Classes in all three levels are designed to encourage the development of mentor relationships and enhance networking opportunities. The skills taught in AFTB classes are by no means limited to the military environment but can be used in other areas of life. When and where a family member enters into the training is based on their experience or choice of course enrollment, not the rank or grade of the sponsor.

Question:
How important are pre-deployment briefings for families?

Answer:
Pre-deployment briefings are very important for families, even for those families who have experienced many deployments in the past. Useful information is provided to Soldiers and family members at pre-deployment briefings. Also, there usually are representatives from many of the military community agencies (legal, medical, housing, finance, chaplain, etc.) at these briefings, who are there to answer questions and provide on-the-spot services. For example, the legal representative may be able to generate Powers of Attorney or set up appointments to develop a Family Care Plan or will. The Finance representative can provide answers to questions about separation pay or other changes that the service member may see on his Leave and Earning statement (LES) once he/she is deployed. Pre-deployment briefings are also a good time for Soldiers and family members to update their emergency tracking forms and/or contact information for the Family Readiness Group (FRG) and/or Rear Detachment Commander. Pre-deployment briefings provide a forum to allow Soldiers to plan for their upcoming military duty away from home and prepare them and their families for the separation.

Question:
Must Army volunteers follow the same rules and regulations that paid personnel in the organization follow?

Answer:
Army volunteers are considered employees of the US Government and subject to the same ethical standards in performance as paid employees. For example, they are expected to adhere to the Privacy Act regarding confidentiality of personal information and records. If volunteers have agreed to work certain days or hours for an agency, they are expected to fulfill those obligations or contact a pre-determined member of the organization if unable to do so. Furthermore, just as employees are protected from certain liability abuses in an organization, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 extends this protection to volunteers serving nonprofit organizations and governmental entities.

Question:
What are Family Program Academies?

Answer:
Family Program Academies are an education and training event for Guard & Reserve family members.

Question:
What can I do to prepare my child for my spouse's deployment?

Answer:
Deployments can be very difficult on families, particularly on children. Depending on the age of a child, it is important for the child to have some understanding of what a deployment is why his/her parent must go away. It is also important for the child to maintain some form of normalcy in his/her daily routine as well as to maintain contact with his/her parent during the time the parent is deployed whether it be via the phone, Internet or mail. Some parents record audio and/or videotapes of themselves reading bedtime stories before they deploy so the young child can hear his/her parent's voice while they are separated. Your Family Readiness Group (FRG) Leader may have other suggestions, as might your military community's Deployment Readiness Coordinator. There are also many deployment resources available online to assist you with activities and advice for helping children cope before, during and after a parent's deployment.

Question:
What financial information should I obtain from my Soldier prior to his/her deployment?

Answer:
There are a number of financial issues to discuss with your Soldier before he/she deploys. Make sure you are aware of all your financial obligations and ensure that they are covered during the deployment. Prepare a family budget that includes spending money for incidentals that the Soldier will need as well as adequate finances to support you and your family (if applicable) while your Soldier is deployed. Make sure you have access to financial documents and signature authority to make deposits and withdrawals in the appropriate accounts needed. Your Financial Readiness Program counselor can provide you with a financial checklist to assist you with your personal affairs and help you set up a family budget.

Question:
What is a deployment?

Answer:
A deployment is a military duty assignment that takes the Soldier away from home. Deployments can happen at any time, to any place, for any length of time.
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