News: ‘Raiders’ thank FRG volunteers with appreciation luncheon
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – First Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, recognized its “Raider” Brigade family Readiness Group volunteers with an appreciation lunch and symposium at the 1st BCT Headquarters building, April 4.
“In light of National Volunteer Appreciation week, during the month of April, the brigade leadership felt it was important to take time to recognize our spouses who have stepped up to volunteer as FRG leaders,” said Stacy Tyler, senior FRG advisor for Raider Brigade and wife of brigade commander, Col. Joel Tyler.
According to the FRG Leader’s Handbook, the FRG is an organization of family members, volunteers, soldiers and civilian employees belonging to a unit or organization, who together provide an avenue of mutual support and assistance and a network of communication among a unit’s members, the chain of command and community resources.
The role of an FRG volunteer takes many shapes during the course of their service. Each volunteer’s role shifts as they move through different stages of family readiness as their soldiers move through different stages of training and mission readiness.
“FRG acts as an extension of the unit by providing official accurate information as a conduit of the chain of command, via e-mail, social media, phone calls and FRG meetings,” said Theresa Scott, family Readiness Support assistant, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “It is the command-sponsored organization of all soldiers, (married and single), volunteers and family members, both immediate and extended.”
FRG leaders choose to serve others by taking on the responsibility of leadership, which at times can be a daunting task, but the rewards make it all worthwhile, Scott said.
“FRG's are the cornerstone to the chain of command, soldiers and families, allowing soldiers to focus on the mission by knowing their family members are having their needs met while they are away,” she said.
In an effort to provide FRG volunteers with tools to help them manage the stress associated with the work they do, Raider leadership invited Kendra Seat from the Army Community Service Wellness Center to provide training on stress management and relaxation.
Teams participated in facilitated discussions with their fellow volunteers to share their personal practices, tips, and questions. During the working groups, the volunteers took the opportunity to network and build teams.
Providing information, resources and support to more than 20 of the Brigade’s new FRG leaders was a critical point of the luncheon, said Jane Defreese, a senior FRG advisor for Raider Brigade and wife of 1st BCT’s senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese.
“New FRG volunteers have to work a little harder in the beginning to keep things running, so it's great to have a chance to tell them ‘Thank you,’” said Defreese. “They also have to learn where to locate resources, which they can use and share with soldiers and their families.”
In an effort to give back to the volunteers who work for soldiers and families, Raider Brigade leadership added a couple perks to the volunteer luncheon, including personal massages donated by a local massage school, and gift baskets filled with goodies.
“The strength of our Nation is our Army; the strength of our Army is our soldiers; the strength of our soldiers is our families,” brigade chaplain, Maj. Matthew Stuart, told the volunteers.
“Your jobs are very similar to mine,” he said. “You are all counselors, comforters and caregivers who have been a great help to many people.”
Upon the luncheon’s conclusion, each FRG leader walked away with a resource tote bag containing literature about ongoing classes and resources to schedule future classes for unit FRG meetings.
“I have been absolutely humbled by the dedication of our volunteers and the way they have pushed the Raider FRGs to a new level,” said Tyler. “I am confident that when our soldiers are out in the field for an extended amount of time, these FRG leaders’ efforts will pay off and families will continue to support one another and build lasting bonds.”