Defense Officials Honor Reserve Family Readiness Programs
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2003 With more than 150,000 reserve component members called to active duty, the nation understands the crucial role they play in the defense of the United States, Thomas F. Hall said at the Pentagon today.
Hall spoke at a ceremony honoring the U.S. armed forces six reserve components for the 2002 Reserve Family Readiness Awards. The award recognizes that family readiness programs enhance the deployability of reserve component units.
"Families are a critical element in all our lives," Hall said. "How we support them, how we take care of them in crisis, war or peace is absolutely critical."
The assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs pledged the Defense Department's support to family members of those called to active duty. He also assured reserve component service members that DoD will not call up "one more reservist or one less reservist to active duty than we absolutely need."
Hall vowed that the services will return the reserve component members to their families as soon as possible. He said defense officials are attempting to spread the burden around.
"We know if you've been mobilized one, two or three times, that creates strains with the families and employers," he said.
DoD is trying hard not to extend reservists on active duty beyond a year's service, Hall said. Defense officials also want to ensure "reservists arrive with the right equipment, at the right time, with the right training so they can help with any conflict and get them home safe," he said.
The 2002 award recipients are:
- The 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command of the South Carolina National Guard. The unit's family readiness initiatives and networking have reached far beyond the command's boundaries. The family readiness group has been relentless in ensuring that every spouse, dependent and sponsor is aware of all available support and is ready for deployment.
- The 2nd Battalion, 98th Regiment, of the 98th Division received the award for the Army Reserve. The Bronx-based unit was on a one-year deployment and had a 100 percent rate of executable family care plans and family member identification cards.
- The Naval Reserve Force Protection Law Enforcement Physical Security Unit 0716 from Point Mugu, Calif., received the award for the Naval Reserve. The unit has deployed people worldwide, said officials. Family readiness plans enable commanders to count on the members of the unit.
- The 4th Combat Engineer Battalion received the award for the Marine Reserve. The unit is based in Baltimore. As a combat-arms unit, the battalion uses a multi-pronged interdependent approach to form a support network that reaches out to members and families, and enhances readiness.
- The 155th Air Refueling Wing of the Nebraska Air National Guard also received the award. The unit's up-to- date family readiness plan has enabled service members to participate in Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit has developed "The Morale Link" that keeps service members and their families connected during deployments.
- The 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown, Ohio, received the award for the Air Force Reserve. The unit provides support for all components active, reserve and Guard, and retired. A guiding principle has been that family readiness is important through each phase of the deployment cycle.
For the second year in a row, Port Security Unit 307 is the Coast Guard Reserve recipient of the award. The unit, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., has an aggressive program to educate unit family members about the unit's mission, their rights, benefits, privileges and responsibilities.