DOD Honors Top Guard, Reserve Family Programs
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2011 Defense Department officials today lauded the top National Guard and Reserve family programs, calling family support a vital component of mission readiness.
Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, second from left, and Army Command Sgt. Maj. John D. Gipe, senior enlisted advisor for the office of the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, far left, laud award recipients during the 2010 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Awards ceremony in the Pentagon, Feb. 18, 2011. DOD photo by Elaine Wilson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Whether it is the basics of building military communities or taking care of military children or supporting military spouses -- all of those things that you have demonstrated success at are important,” Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said at a Pentagon ceremony.
McCarthy addressed a standing-room-only audience during the 2010 Reserve Family Readiness Awards program held in the Hall of Heroes.
Military family support has gained the nation’s attention of late, he said, citing the government’s new military family support initiative. Last month, President Barack Obama unveiled a White House report titled: “Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment,” which describes the sweeping interagency effort under way to better support military families.
“That report, and the effort which produced it, is great testimony to the importance in this administration of the very kinds of things that all of you have so successfully worked on,” McCarthy said. “Your success and our recognition of that success are right in line with our president, his administration and everybody in this building.”
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., president of the Military Officers Association of America, joined McCarthy for the award presentation. “On behalf of MOAA, our 377,000 members simply want to say thank you for your inspiring example of selfless service and patriotism,” Ryan told the honorees.
They presented unit representatives with a plaque as well as a cash award from MOAA intended to assist with enhancement of family support programs. The recipients, along with a snapshot of their accomplishments, include:
-- The Army National Guard’s 1484th Transportation Company at Green, Ohio, maintained morale-building support throughout deployments with care packages and consistent family contact. Family support representatives also attended every unit drill to pass on information and emphasize the importance of family readiness.
-- The Army Reserve’s 354th Military Police Company at St. Louis, Mo., offered families extensive predeployment support and, during deployments, reached across miles to make contacts and meet the needs of every deployed soldier’s family. During deployments, the unit ensured regular contact with family members.
-- The Marine Corps Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, at Bridgeton, Mo., increased its support base by training five family readiness officers, six family readiness advisers and 33 family readiness assistants. The family readiness team also participated in a fund-raising event that raised more than $200,000 to aid injured Marines and their families.
-- The Navy Reserve’s SEAL [Sea, Air and Land] Team 18 at Virginia Beach, Va., held a successful predeployment family readiness conference to offer families full deployment support. The conference delivered critical resources to families while also addressing their children’s needs.
-- The Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing at Newington, N.H., personally contacted every family with a deployed loved one at least once a month. Post-deployment efforts began at the airport with well-being check followed by a wing reunion and reintegration program the next day. The unit also developed a resource guide with a list of community members ready to aid families with everything from plumbing and electrical needs to child and pet care.
-- The Air Force Reserve’s 439th Airlift Wing at Chicopee, Mass., maintained close contact with families of deployed members and a cadre of volunteer spouses worked to grow community support and resources. The unit also linked with nonmilitary support agencies, such as the Red Cross, to deliver helpful information throughout the deployment cycle.
-- The Coast Guard Reserve’s Maritime Safety Security Team at Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., created an innovative family readiness and morale briefing with guest speakers, and also greeted all new members and families with welcome aboard packages. Along with traditional contact methods, the unit established a blog to deliver current information to military families.