I never knew what the FRG was until my husband joined the Army last March. In the Marines, I was too new and too young to really put any thought into what they offered – and the Marines (at least a decade ago) weren’t nearly as family oriented as the Army.
When we moved to Ft. Bliss, I attended my first FRG meeting with Sam. It was attended by all the soldiers and their wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends, etc. Children were welcome and pizza was served. This was the first meeting with an entirely new group of people, and they began to put an order to things – activities, fundraising, speakers.
There is an FRG meeting once a month, and an event each holiday and special occasion. They have hosted Easter, Christmas, and Halloween parties, sent off officers to retirement with dinners, and welcomed families to the area.
So what is the FRG? What else do they do and why? How can they help me and my family? Do they help with anything I need?
Here is what the FRG isn’t responsible for:
- Acting as surrogate parents
- Acting as social workers
- Supporting a divided “club” atmosphere (i.e. enlisted/officer, single/married spouses/parents etc…)
- Providing a babysitting service
- Lending money, cars, or other items
The FRG is a group of command-sponsored people who support the company or battalion they are associated with in different ways. These can include family members, soldiers, civilians in direct contact with the military, and volunteers. In ours, there were jobs: president, vice, secretary. Each one was involved in a different aspect of putting together the parties and raising money.
The FRG also plays a large role in helping families when a member is deployed (usually a mom or dad). They help families prepare for both the deployment of the battalion and adjusting to life with them gone. They also prepare for field exercises (which can last a few weeks or months) and keep everyone involved updated on dates, times, and what to expect while the military members are away.
FRGs can often provide classes and workshops to help prepare for deployments, financial burdens, low level family problems, and they promote using resources available on and off base to help families in need.
At meetings in some companies, there may be a speaker from on-base services you might want to be more familiar with – MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation), someone from the base hospital, a counselor, housing personnel – each might be invited to come share with you what they do and what services they offer that you may not be using yet.
We have a newsletter that comes out several times each month to tell us about upcoming events for the kids, for just us, and what’s going on in the company. From promotions to homecomings, these newsletters keep everyone updated at the same time.
The FRG also helps with newcomers – those new to the company/battalion, to the base, or to life in the military. Some do a “Welcome Wagon” or baskets to new families in the area. Others throw baby showers and host meal trains for new and expecting parents. Volunteers are always needed for these types of things.
Want to get involved in your FRG? Attend the next meeting or call up one of the leaders. Chances are they’re looking for help in various areas, and you can spend a little or a lot of time assisting our soldiers and their families in making the military life a little easier.