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NEWS | Dec. 11, 2014

FRG Leaders lend helping hand

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

When families experience a deployment for the first time, they may go through an unfamiliar range of emotions and issues.

Dealing with a family member's absence can be difficult, but members of Family Readiness Groups are available at Fort Eustis to help any way they can.

"The FRGs and their volunteers work hand-in-hand with commanders to provide support to families while their loved ones are deployed," said Liezel Bambao, Army Community Service installation mobilization and deployment specialist. "Their priority is to make sure families are self-sufficient while their U.S. Soldier is away and updating family members on the status of deployed members."

Family Readiness Groups are comprised of family members, Soldiers and civilian employees who volunteer their time in support of the unit. Usually starting at the company level, FRG leaders work with commanders to ensure families receive support they need while their family member is away. They maintain contact information for all of the unit's Soldiers' next of kin, as well as contact information for other relatives who may wish to receive updates on the deployed individual.

Dr. Nina Griffin, Langley Air Force Base Veterinary Clinic veterinarian, is the FRG leader for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment, 128th Avn. Brigade, where her husband, U.S. Army Capt. Wayne Griffin, serves as the company commander.

"My husband has deployed in the past so I know how difficult it can be sometimes when your family member is away," said Nina. "The FRG in my husband's unit made me feel like their family, so I decided to join the group to give back and support other families."

Aside from contacting families with updates, FRGs host fundraisers and morale events throughout the year. Some occasions include back-to-school events for children, reintegration support seminars and social events for spouses.

"Some of the spouses don't know many people in the area, so when they're significant other deploys, they're in need of a support system," said Bambao. "FRG leaders host morale events like dinners and children's events so the families can get the support they need and meet other families dealing with the same issues."

Family Readiness Group leaders attend a two-day training course through ACS which covers proper ways to communicate information to families, working with commanders and information on various ways they can support Service members and their families. Their selfless acts and dedication to volunteer work within the units help strengthen family ties and unit cohesion, Bambao added.

"It's outstanding to see how much FRGs continue to grow with volunteers," said Bambao. "They are dedicated to serving other families within their unit and their work with commanders will allow the groups to grow for years on the installation."