Advisors, Leaders, Key Callers, Treasurers, Newsletter Editors… the list of ways to help your FRG function really 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 typically happens at the company level, that is what I will be basing 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 is one fact that cannot be stated enough! The FRG is a COMMAND led organization. The ultimate person in charge is the unit commander. All of the volunteers fall under the command’s discretion.
FRG Advisor- The FRG advisor is the FRG point person at the battalion level. I know, I know, I said I was going to focus on the company level but the company FRG does not function without the battalion FRG Advisor. They receive information about training cycles, troop movements, and family functions from a higher level (usually at 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 does not lead their own FRG but does plan battalion family events. The FRG advisor has traditionally been the battalion commander’s spouse. I’ve actually never been involved in an FRG where the battalion command spouse wasn’t the advisor, but it does happen. One of our previous advisors once told me that she never was an FRG leader or even active in the FRG, but the advisor role was perfect because she was able to be a basic point person without the commitment of a full FRG.
FRG Leader- The FRG leader IS NOT in charge of the FRG. I cannot stress that enough! Most people will think that the FRG leader is in charge because they are 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. A lot of times what is being planned and implemented is 100% the commander’s but the FRG leader is getting the job done. FRG leaders (and commander) attend monthly steering committee meetings where they are 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, typically via email though Facebook has aided many. FRG Leaders also plan social events, run fundraisers, start meal trains, curate baby baskets… really the sky is the limit on what they can do. Similar to the advisor, the leader is typically the commander’s spouse. This is not 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 have 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.
Treasurer- The treasurer is a key volunteer that is essential to the operation of the FRG. Every FRG operates an informal fund. The informal fund is a bank account the 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 is a mess, it could be a whole different story. Personally, I don’t think it is fair to dump messy accounting on a new volunteer, so it is pretty common to have an FRG leader/Commander clean everything up before a new treasurer is instated. Whenever money is involved, it is important to have a trustworthy and responsible individual involved. I’m usually way more picky about who is the treasurer than any of the other volunteers.
Key Caller- aka Point of Contact (POC) Honestly, this is a pretty sweet gig and if you don’t know how you want to volunteer, I highly suggest you think about being a key caller. Key callers are the unsung heroes of the FRG. Key callers receive a block of FRG members, typically around 20. They will contact the members at semi regular intervals (implemented by the FRG leader/commander) 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 the case of emergency, Key callers can be used to notify family members in a very rapid manner. We have our key callers doing 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 is monthly. So overall, not a huge commitment. We try to evenly distribute our key callers by platoon, so we have 2 key callers per platoon and they split the family members within it. Key callers can be any member of the FRG, though we try to keep them as people within the area so that if anything crazy arises we can have quick access to them.
General FRG Volunteer- These are the backbone of the FRG. These are the people who make all the events possible. 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, these are all ways that you can be a general FRG volunteer. By volunteering to do these types of jobs you take such a weight off the FRG leader!! The FRG leader does a little bit of everything and these volunteers make their jobs so much easier. Anyone can volunteer, the more the merrier!!
Depending on how large the FRG is as well as how involved and active it is will determine if there are even more official roles to volunteer in. Some FRGs send out a monthly newsletter to members with articles and photos of what the unit has been up to. This is a very involved task and there is usually a volunteer who manages and edits the publication. At the battalion level there is 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 have you volunteered in the FRG? Do you have any other questions about what the FRG?