Just got back from this month’s FRG meeting.  I’ll start with what is FRG?  Family Readiness Group.  That explains so much doesn’t it.  You may have seen the photos recently of what _____ thinks _____ is, what I think _____ is, what ______ really is.  Have to say, I’m addicted, I love those.  Can’t get enough.  So I’m gonna play that game with FRG.

What I think when I think FRG:  You know the movie We Were Soldiers.  Remember how the wives met and had a baby shower, all the ladies got indignant about the one wife not allowed to use the laundry mat.  8 and a half years in, I still hold onto that ideal, though I have yet to be in a FRG like that.  Military wives don’t have the luxury of friends we grew up with down the street and parents across town.  We don’t even tend to have the same friends as we did two years ago because either we or the friends have moved.  We’re all still friends, but we can’t drop by for dinner or call when we need a favor.  FRG should be there so that we have a built-in support system, we need it.

What women who’ve been to FRG and now won’t touch it with a ten foot pole think of FRG.  Back-stabbing and gossip.  Unfortunatly, some people just can’t leave the world of high school cliques.  So for this one, picture Mean Girls.

What soldiers think of FRG.  Packages.  We aren’t doing that here, but, well, being able to do that requires coordinated effort, i.e. volunteers.  Every year I’m in the Army it seems like there are fewer and fewer of those.  Mental picture for this one, a box with candy, toothpaste and baby wipes.  If you ever wish to send a package to a soldier don’t underestimate a soldiers need for sugar and hygiene.

What FRG leaders think of FRG.  Regulations.  Another thing to never underestimate is the Army’s love for rules and paperwork.  Most FRG leaders start with high hopes of all the great stuff they will be able to do for soldiers and their families.  And then you get the big book full of do and do not’s.  And you find that some of your ideas are do nots.  And those you can do suddenly require paperwork and permission out the wazoo.  Here we’d have a picture of a 2-inch binder full of legal blah-blah.

There are some other impressions I have of what different people think of FRG, but I might get in trouble for some of them, so I’ll move on to what FRG should be.  It should be a place for Army wives to meet other Army wives.  It should have a variety of activities each quarter.  Social activities for those who just want to hang.  Teaching activities because there is so much you need to know in the military that Army wives just don’t know.  Classes on finance, what the JAG’s office can offer you, classes on understand the military, and the one that I tend to push, what will happen in case of a causality and how to prepare.  I know wives don’t like to think about that, but a little preparation before that you hopefully never have to use could make the worst moments easier.  Imagine a stay-at-home mom finding out that the SGLI isn’t enough to cover the expenses of her family after a soldier’s death.  Now not only is her husband gone, but she has to find a job and her kids are losing much more than their dad.  That can be avoided by sitting down with her husband, having all the numbers for all the benefits she’d get, and knowing what companies offer life insurance without a war clause before something happens.  And it’s not just money to think about.  Imagine a wife in a new place where she’d never choose to live, the Army just moved her there, parents in one state and in-laws in another. Her husband just died and now she needs to decided where she’s gonna bury her husband and where she’s gonna live.  Those are not easy decisions.  And very likely a lot of people will be telling her what to do.  But if she and her husband already have a plan, she doesn’t have to make any decisions, they are already made.  And she’ll know what her husband actually wants when other people try to tell her “well, your husband would want….”.   Yeah, I’m passionate about this topic.  It’s gotten me in trouble before.  People think it’s insensitive of me to tell Army wives their husbands just might die and they need to think about what would happen.

What FRG really is.  Picture a bunch of women trying to accomplish anything and kids running all over the place.