Reserve-Component Units Cited for Superb Family Support
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2008 During a ceremony in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes today, senior defense officials recognized seven National Guard and reserve units for supporting families of deployed troops.
Sharon M. Semrow is a volunteer family-support coordinator for the Marine Corps Reserve’s 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, 4th Marine Division, based in Chicago. She works with families and Marines assigned to the battalion’s Fox Company located in Milwaukee. Semrow’s unit is one of seven reserve-component organizations that received the 2007 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award at the Pentagon, Feb. 15, 2008. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, hosted the annual Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Awards presentation, which highlighted the best National Guard and reserve unit family readiness support programs in 2007.
“You know, you recruit individuals and retain families,” Hall said before presenting the awards. “It is so important that we emphasize families, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
The seven awardees are recognized as “the best of the best” in providing readiness and deployment-support programs for reserve-component servicemembers and their families, Hall said.
Each recognized unit received an engraved wood Defense Department plaque and a certificate signed by Hall. Award recipients also received a certificate and $1,000 from the Military Officers Association of America.
Sharon M. Semrow is a volunteer family-support coordinator for the award-winning Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, 4th Marine Division, based in Chicago. Semrow works with families of Marines assigned to the battalion’s Fox Company, which is located in Milwaukee.
“It is an honor to receive this award, and the whole battalion worked hard,” Semrow said. Marines assigned to Fox Company are currently deployed to Iraq, she said.
“We pass information from the command to the family members,” Semrow explained. Semrow’s husband, Jeffrey, is a Marine gunnery sergeant in the reserve who served a duty tour in Iraq.
Family support is important, she said, “So the Marines can focus on the job that they’re doing and not worry about us back at home.”
Maintaining communications between deployed servicemembers and their families is important for morale, said Leslie B. Holland, a family-support coordinator for the award-winning Coast Guard Reserve Port Security Unit 308 based in Gulfport, Miss. PSU 308 personnel have deployed for duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, she said.
Holland maintains a list of phone numbers that can be used to quickly contact deployed servicemembers’ commands in case of family emergencies or other contingencies back home.
“Within a matter of minutes, we can get a message out” to servicemembers at Guantanamo asking them to contact their families, Holland explained.
The Coast Guard members and spouses feel “relieved there is an extra group of people that are helping their families,” Holland said.
Other units recognized at the ceremony include:
-- Air Force Reserve: 944th Mission Support Flight, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.;
-- Air National Guard: 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno, Calif.;
-- Army National Guard: 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, Milwaukee;
-- Army Reserve: 108th Training Command, Charlotte, N.C., and;
-- Navy Reserve: Naval Air Systems Command 6066, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
The department’s Reserve Family Readiness Awards program was established in 2000. Robust family support programs are important and vital to mission success, officials said, as significant numbers of servicemembers have deployed overseas in support of the global war on terrorism.