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Advisors, Leaders, Key Callers, Treasurers, Newsletter Editors… the list of ways to help your Family Readiness Group function is endless. Like everything else in the military the terminology can be odd or confusing. I’m going to break down what each role is, who usually performs that role and what kind of commitment you can expect from your role. Since the heart and soul of the FRG happens at the company level, that’s what I’ll base my descriptions on. Please note that there are similar positions at the battalion, brigade, and division levels!
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of volunteering there’s one fact that can’t be stated enough! The Family Readiness Group is a COMMAND led organization. The ultimate person in charge is the unit commander. All of the volunteers fall under the command’s discretion.
The FRG advisor is the Family Readiness Group point person at the battalion level. I know, I know, I said I would focus on the company level but the company FRG doesn’t function without the battalion FRG Advisor. They receive information about training cycles, troop movements, and family functions from a brigade steering committee meeting and disperse the information to the company commanders and FRG leaders at a battalion level steering committee meeting. The FRG advisor doesn’t lead their own FRG but does plan battalion family events.
Traditionally, the FRG advisor is the battalion commander’s spouse. I’ve actually never been in a Family Readiness Group where the battalion command spouse wasn’t the advisor, but it happens. A previous advisor told me that she never was an FRG leader, but the advisor role was perfect because she was able to be a basic point person without the commitment of a full Family Readiness Group.
The FRG leader ISN’T in charge of the Family Readiness Group. I cannot stress that enough! Most people will think that the FRG leader is in charge because they’re the ones sending out emails, recruiting volunteers, planning events, etc. While the FRG leader does do all these things, these tasks are completed only after receiving the commander’s seal of approval. Most times what’s been planned and implemented is 100% the commander’s but the FRG leader gets the job done.
FRG leaders (and commander) attend monthly steering committee meetings where they’re briefed on community events, updates to benefits, training calendars, and troop movements. They then take that information and send it out to all the members of their FRG, via email though Facebook has aided many.
FRG Leaders Can Choose to Go Above and Beyond
FRG Leaders also plan social events, run fundraisers, start meal trains, curate baby baskets… the sky is the limit on what they can do. Similar to the advisor, the leader is typically the commander’s spouse. This isn’t always the case. Many company commanders these days aren’t married or their spouses have careers that don’t allow for a large volunteer commitment. In these cases I’ve seen everything from a “seasoned” NCO spouse to one of the other officer’s wives do the job. The most important part about doing the job is the commitment to the position. It can be a lot of work, often thankless, and quite stressful.
The treasurer is a key volunteer that’s essential to the operation of the FRG. Every Family Readiness Group operates an informal fund. The informal fund is a bank account that holds all fundraiser monies and donations that come into the FRG. The treasurer is responsible for all deposits and debits from the account. If the account is in good standing when the treasurer takes over, it can be pretty basic bookkeeping. If it’s a mess, it could be a whole different story.
I don’t think it’s fair to dump messy accounting on a new volunteer, so it’s pretty common to have an FRG leader/Commander clean everything up before a new treasurer takes over. Whenever money is involved, it’s important to have a trustworthy and responsible individual involved. I’m usually way more picky about who’s the treasurer than any of the other volunteers.
aka Point of Contact POC
This is a pretty sweet gig and if you don’t know how you want to volunteer, I suggest you think about being a key caller. Key callers receive a block of FRG members, typically around 20. They contact the members at semi regular intervals to verify their contact information. This keeps the roster up to date. It ensures that information is able to get to family members and it keeps the roster as up to date as possible for mission essential contact. In case of emergency, Key callers notify family members in a rapid manner.
Our key callers do routine “call downs” every 3 months. We give them a week to complete (more than enough time, I do my list in an hour). During deployment it’s monthly. So overall, not a huge commitment. We try to distribute key callers by platoon, so we use 2 key callers per platoon and they split the family members within it. We try to keep them as people within the area so that if anything crazy arises we can have quick access to them.
General Family Readiness Group Volunteer-
General FRG volunteers are the backbone of the Family Readiness Group. This is also the easiest way to volunteer. No long-term commitments and specific one time tasks. Picking up pizza for an FRG meeting, manning a fundraiser table at the battalion cookout, taking Santa photos at the company christmas party, the list goes on. There are so many ways that you can be a general Family Readiness Group volunteer. By volunteering to do these types of jobs you take such a weight off the Family Readiness Group leader! The FRG leader does a bit of everything and these volunteers make their jobs so much easier. Anyone can volunteer, the more the merrier!
More Ways to Volunteer
If the Family Readiness Group has involved and active members there may be more volunteer roles. Some Family Readiness Groups send out a monthly newsletter to members with articles and photos of what the unit in action. This is a very involved task and there’s usually a volunteer who manages and edits the publication. At the battalion level there’s also an auditor who keeps an eye on the books of the company treasurers. This makes division level audits a breeze because everything is uniform and squared away.
How do you volunteer in the Family Readiness Group? Do you have any other questions about the FRG?