News: Spouses prepare the way ahead
Story by Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Army Senior leader spouses joined forces to share ideas at an off-site conference Sept. 12-13 at the McChord Collocated Club to prepare for changes scheduled to impact the structure of the Family Readiness Support Assistant program here.
“The reduction plan is scheduled to take effect by fiscal year 2014, allowing JBLM one year to plan, implement and adjust from a current authorization of 47 to 25 FRSA’s,” said Mission Support Element Director at JBLM, Mike Fuller. “Despite impending budget cuts and 22 fewer positions, JBLM Army leadership is actively involved to ensure a successful restructuring and transition of the FRSA program.”
FRSAs administratively maintain the continuity and stability of Family Readiness Groups as units undergo changes in volunteers and leadership by providing logistical support to commanders, rear-detachment commanders and volunteer FRG advisers.
The installation is not alone, as US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) decreased the overall number of FRSAs by 198 across the US resulting from a Department of Defense strategy based on budgetary constraints of a troop draw down in Iraq and a template withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“FORSCOM is in a position to conduct a comprehensive review of the FRSA program”, said Fuller. “As a result, one FRSA will be allocated for each 1000 FORSCOM soldiers assigned to an installation.”
JBLM leaders and Army spouses feel it is necessary to maintain open lines of communication with everyone involved over the course of the restructuring initiative.
“As we transition and move forward it’s important to be proactive and provide as much information as possible to soldiers and families,” said Patti Brown, spouse of Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, I Corps commanding general.
“Remaining completely transparent by keeping everyone informed is the only way to successfully accomplish this transition,” added Fuller.
“As combat operations are scaled back, JBLM FORSCOM deployed troop numbers will drop from approximately 11,800 in 2012 to approximately 4,700 troops by 2013,” Fuller said as he addressed spouses at the conference.
Part of solution to mitigating the loss of 22 FRSA authorizations will be a need to return to pre-Sept. 11 practices, Fuller noted, emphasizing the greater need to depend on FRG volunteers to fill-in for the FRSA losses.
In lieu of the challenging road ahead, spouses believe they are ready to take on the additional responsibility of recruiting and educating volunteers while maintaining the FRSA mission.