December 30, 2003, 07:15
Family Readiness Groups respond to deployment
By Ms. Tresea Myers
Family Assistance Coordinator, 2-116 Infantry
Just what exactly is an FRG? For many Cold War-era soldiers, the first thing that comes to mind is the Federal Republic of Germany. While Germany tours instill fond memories, the FRG of today refers to the Family Readiness Groups of our units that are there to ensure our families are taken care of in times of need.
In November 2002, the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry was mobilized and deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Our FRG quickly went into action and facilitated numerous actions on behalf of the soldiers and worked with our communities to ensure the National Guard story was told.
Our communities responded with an outpouring of support that would make any soldier and his family proud. During the deployment, a local Ruritan club provided $1,000 a month for car repairs for soldier's families. The units' leadership provided volunteer soldiers to perform yard work and assist families who needed to move households.
Most significant was our Virginia Defense Force. They implemented a food pantry for soldier's families. The community responded so bountifully that the pantry at times overflowed with food and toiletries. The Defense Force manned this activity every weekend and provided our families with many needed items at no cost.
The local American Red Cross Chapter helped with administering the Army Emergency Relief funds; provided care packages for our soldiers in Guantanamo; asked for donations for the homecoming from local businesses and continuous support for both the soldiers and the families. A local university held a “Support the Troops” Rally to raise funds to help the Battalion Family Readiness Group. While a local candle company gave the proceeds from part of their tent sales in support of the FRG. Churches, businesses and civic organizations all over the state pitched in to support our soldiers and their families throughout the deployment.
Fond memories? Probably not from the perspective of the soldiers being gone for a year, but the memories of communities that reached out to support us in times of need will always be a proud reminder that we live in a great country – the land of the free and the home of the brave!