Hall Presents Top Family Readiness Awards
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2007 The Defense Department’s top reserve official today recognized the nation’s top family readiness programs.
Thomas F. Hall, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, presented the 2006 Reserve Family Readiness Awards in a ceremony at the conclusion of the 2007 Family Readiness Summit. Retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America, accompanied Hall.
Hall said today’s operational tempo is placing more demands on servicemembers and family members. It is important that programs and services are in place so that servicemembers don’t have to worry about family members while away, he said.
“Families always play a very key role in the careers and lives of our young men and women who serve,” Hall said. “Without a family that is satisfied, … more than likely service is not possible. The family has to be on board.”
“When a servicemember is deployed, the last thing they need to be worrying about is problems at home,” Hall said.
Award winners are:
-- Army National Guard: 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, Wisconsin Army National Guard Headquarters, Madison, Wis. According to the award citation, the battalion readiness group received point-of-contact information for 570 of its 573 soldiers. In addition to the four successful phone-tree evolutions during the year, the family readiness group also sent out more than 900 newsletters each month. Ninety-five percent of the unit members received welcome packages of family readiness information, and a survey indicated that 75 percent of the soldiers, spouses and families indicated they coped extremely well to deployment.
-- Army Reserve: 108th Division, Institutional Training, Foreign Army Training Command, Charlotte, N.C. The division provided 100 percent of the 931 mobilized reservists and their families a detailed mobilization book and compact disc containing an online, Web-based program that presented supporting Web sites and mission information. In addition to shipping at least one care package to every mobilized soldier in theater, the family support group collected and distributed more than $23,000 in international calling cards and provided them to the mobilized reservists, the citation stated.
-- Navy Reserve: Detachment 0225, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25, Rock Island, Ill. In advance of official notification, leadership called together the crew, spouses and other family members to discuss the likelihood of a mobilization and the need for family readiness. Building a coalition of information assets, a weekend drill was set aside specifically for readiness training that included Army Community Services, American Red Cross, Tricare, Army legal presentations and Navy family service representation. Within a month of the training, unit members began to be mobilized. The families congealed into a self-sustaining support group that proved its value when two unit members were killed in action within five weeks of each other. The performance of the unit in theater was bolstered by the success of the family programs put in place before deployment, according to the award citation.
-- Marine Forces Reserve: 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Selfridge, Mich. Nearly 1,100 of the unit’s families received monthly newsletters and Internet contact trees, constantly reminding them of services available. More than 300 public relations events built strong relationships with community partners that proved to be beneficial to the families. All the resources are called to bear on casualty reporting and the return of wounded Marines, providing a benchmark level of support to the member and family, according to the award citation.
-- Air National Guard: 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard. The wing set the standard for total force family readiness program management, embracing active-duty airmen and their families as part of a program where active-duty Air Force members work side by side with Air National Guard airmen. New families were provided with informative welcome packets designed to make their move to the Air National Guard seamless. Strong partnerships were forged between the 153rd Airlift Wing Family Readiness Office and the F.E. Warren Airmen and Family Readiness providing an extension of resources to Guard members and their families, according to the award citation.
-- Air Force Reserve: 913th Airlift Wing, Willow Grove, Pa. With 310 of its 1,100 reservists deployed, the family support program instituted a Hearts Apart support group with monthly meetings that included spouses, children, parents, grandparents and others to provide mutual support. When quality of life programs were scheduled, 100 percent of all family members were contacted. Newcomers to the wing were given an orientation package to quickly integrate them into the family program. Reserve families were seamlessly integrated into active duty programs after spouse deployment. The command provided newly remodeled spaces and individual offices for the readiness staff. Building on the basics with service and unit specific initiatives, the family readiness program offered a broad range of services in a very personal way, according to the award citation.
-- Coast Guard Reserve: Port Security Unit 312, San Francisco. The new unit was created from personnel drawn from a wide geographic area, certified ready for operations and more than half of the unit was deployed outside of the U.S. by the end of the year. Few Coast Guard units deploy outside of the United States, and internal expertise is limited in readiness programs. Undaunted, the ombudsman coordinator aggressively coordinated an endless supply of information to 100 percent of the families, coordinated morale and training events with other services, and personally helped families in crisis, according to the award citation.
Editor's Note: Military families can also avail themselves of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which highlights homefront groups across the nation that are providing a variety of services and support to troops and their families. A listing of these groups and information about their efforts is available at www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil.