News: Texas, Wisconsin Guard units recognized for top family readiness programs
Story by Sgt. Darron Salzer
ARLINGTON, Va. - Texas and Wisconsin National Guard units were among several from the reserve components recognized Friday at the 2012 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Awards ceremony, here, at the Pentagon.
Representing the Army and Air National Guards, respectively, were 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, Wisconsin National Guard, and the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas National Guard.
Edith Pond, Family Readiness Group program manager of the 1/147th, said representing the Army National Guard was an incredible honor.
“To have the opportunity to receive support from our community, as well as provide support for our community has been just wonderful overall … having an opportunity to come together due to the sacrifices of the soldiers of the 147th … and to also serve in our way.”
Pond said pre-deployment programs and support from local clubs and organizations that helped set the soldiers and family members of the 147th up for success.
“In return, we gave back to those that supported us by hosting blood drives and a water station for the American Legion at their national convention; we also did the same for the Madison Mini-Marathon in support of our soldiers,” Pond said.
Other programs that set the 147th FRG apart were their scheduling of guest speakers to present topics such as post-traumatic stress and the way in which they used technology to host meetings via phone bridges – seamlessly integrating and supporting members from the Michigan National Guard that were attached to the 147th.
“On behalf of Lt. Col. Marty Pond and the soldiers of the 147th, we just want our FRG to know how much they meant to us and how their support, taking care of our families and the camaraderie they built to help each other get through the mobilization was appreciated by us,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Troy Kleinheinz, military point-of-contact for the 147th FRG.
“We would not have gotten through it without their support and what they did to assure us that when we got home, everything was going to be OK. We had an amazing FRG.”
The hard work and dedication of FRG members to ensure that families are taken care of back home can ensure that soldiers and airmen are focused on the mission.
“You can take my best C-130 pilot, with the most years of experience and the most combat time, and put him in the skies over Afghanistan on a critical mission,” said Air Force Col. David M. McMinn, commander of the 136th AW. “If he just got a call from his wife that refrigerator isn’t working … right before he takes off, that guy is now useless.”
He’s no longer focused on the mission because he’s 4,000 miles away from home and unable to do his job as a husband, McMinn said.
“We really want our members to keep their head on and we want them [to know] that we will handle the families and work with the families,” said Laura Wedel, the 136th FRG leader.
Some of the key elements that set the 136th FRG apart were their events held during deployments, which included back-to-school parties and “powder-puff” football events and their involvement in a local council that consisted of FRG members from all of the other service branches, allowing them to build cross-component integration.
McMinn said the recognition by the DoD was “a testimony to the men and women that we have in our family readiness group and how hard they work.”
“A robust family readiness group back home, taking care of our families’ needs, helps us be effective when we deploy – that is the meat of why these folks are being recognized here today.”