News: Falcon Brigade enhances care team capabilities through scenario-based training
Story by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull
FORT BRAGG, N.C.- Should tragedy strike a paratrooper’s family, the members of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, “Falcon Brigade,” want to ensure that the organization can provide the best support possible to our extended Army family.
Each of the Falcon’s battalions have “care teams,” a group of civilian and military volunteers that receive training provided by the Army Community Service to support families in crisis.
The Falcon Brigade took the ACS training a step further and organized a day of “advanced care team training,” designed to prepare the teams to work together and help determine their roles to their specific battalions, said Cpt. Victoria M. Wilson, a plans officer for the brigade and one of the architects of the specialized care team training.
There were 68 people throughout the brigade that attended the training conducted at the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment headquarters on Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 6. With the 2nd BCT’s status as part of the 82nd ABN DIV’s Global Response Force mission, the brigade bolstered the readiness of the Paratroopers’ family support service through a five-hour course of instruction aided by Fort Bragg’s ACS and Survivor Outreach Services, as well as battalion command and unit ministry teams.
“It’s not the certification process that ACS provides,” said Wilson. “It’s a more unit specific, more detailed training to help provide our care teams additional information and resources going into GRF.”
Intended to help families cope with a death or other tragic circumstance, care teams are not a new concept to the Army. Early in the Global War on Terror, their use became an important complement to the casualty notification process. Care team support could be offered to the family upon notification of a serious incident of a service member. The practice of providing military family support to spouses and family became a standardized and unit-endorsed effort decades ago, and continues to expand in that role.
Whether a family suffers a loss through a deployment overseas or through an accident or illness at home, care teams provide some ease to grieving families by assisting with everyday tasks, such as shopping, child care or answering phone calls. Although they may not personally know the afflicted family beforehand, they can be a source of comfort until family or friends arrive.
With disasters like these in mind, the Falcon Brigade’s care team volunteers participated in role-playing scenarios to test what they would do in a variety of situations. With SOS assistance, trainees determined what would or wouldn’t be comforting or helpful from the perspective of an affected family. ACS covered the resources available and helped set up “care team bags.” The bags contain simple items to help a grieving family, such as coffee, tissues, crayons and coloring books, blankets, and guest books.
“A lot of people became really involved,” said Crystal Durso, the 2nd BCT’s Family Readiness Support Assistant. “They were eager to answer the instructor’s questions and had a lot of ‘what-ifs.’”
Durso, a certified care team member, worked with Wilson to put together the training and coordinated the installation resources that supported it.
The learning didn’t stop when the instructors finished their training blocks.
Bringing all the units together allowed us to collaborate and get ideas from each other, said Cpt. Jennifer C. Yurk, an adjutant general officer from Headquarters Company, 407th Brigade Support Battalion.
The experiences and insights from the others was one of the biggest takeaways from the training, said First Lt. Alysia M Franco, a medical service corps officer assigned to the 407th BSB.
It can be intimidating for someone to volunteer to care for a family following an unexpected death or tragedy, but for some it’s an obligation as a member of the Army community.
“I think it’s very important that we take care of our soldiers' families if there is a death in the family,” said Renee M. Schuldt, an ACS certified care team member and family readiness group advisor for the 407th BSB.
The training helped determine what we want to take and the roles and duties of each care team member when we go into a household, she said.
The Falcon command team and FRSA received positive feedback from the civilians and soldiers that attended the training.
One trainee stopped me and said it was “fantastic” and that she appreciated the in-depth scenarios provided, said Durso.
The training did exactly what it was intended to do and we are now planning to share the training model with the other brigades of the 82nd ABN DIV, she said.