Family readiness 101 — Preparing the National Guard Family for the unexpected

Story By David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Young Anderson Powers takes a break during a Family Readiness Group briefing at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. Anderson is the son of Sgt. Mike Powers and his wife Erin. (Photo by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s 3 a.m., your windows were just shattered by a hailstorm, the lights are out and the kids are crying.  You turn to your loved one for help and — hello! — he/she has been deployed to Southwest Asia for the past 30 days.

Who you gonna call?  Why, your Family Readiness Group, that’s who!

Seriously, if you’ve been in the military lifestyle for any time at all, you’ve probably “been there, done that” when it comes to things going wrong.  And hopefully at some point in your experience you’ve had some contact with this thing call the Kentucky National Guard Family Assistance Center.  They offer a wide range of service and support to all Kentucky military families, National Guard, reserve and active duty as well.

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Chaplain (Maj.) Bill Draper shares the spotlight with Liam Powers during a Family Readiness Briefing at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort. Liam is the son of Sgt. Mike Powers and his wife Erin. (Photo by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

“We’re a one stop shop when it comes to helping our military families,” said Kristen Arnett, coordinator.  “We address the needs of the service member’s family throughout every stage of their career, during deployment, before, after, you name it.”

A typical family readiness briefing covers subjects as diverse as service member pay and finances, legal obligations, benefits, dealing with the media and even who to call if the water pipes break.

“Our FRG is awesome,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ball, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion 238th Aviation.  “They do a great job of keeping our families prepared and informed, and they have proven valuable whenever problems came up.  They really make a difference when it comes to taking care of our troops and their families.”

For Robin Hartman, wife of Sgt. Steve Hartman, Co. C, 2nd Battalion 238th Aviation, her family readiness group proved essential in getting through their first deployment.

“I had no idea what to expect,” she said.  “Thank goodness for the Family Assistance Center and Family Programs! They provided a ton of great information at the Yellow Ribbon briefing before our unit deployed, and helped us get organized and prepared.”

According to Hartman, information regarding legal paperwork are crucial to preparing for deployment.

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"Sorry, miss, but this is more than three ounces." -- Sgt. Ross Haste and Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Keith perform a safety check for contraband liquids at the castle gate during a Family Readiness Group briefing. (Photo by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

“We were able to walk through the material and gather our records, phone numbers, marriage license, and power of attorney — everything I might need while he was gone, and all of which I needed at some point during that year.”

Probably the most important piece of information she received was the phone number to the Family Assistance Center.

“I used it a lot and they were incredible,” she said.

Networking is another benefit of the family readiness group system.  No matter how strong your personal support mechanism is, sometimes you just need someone who shares a common experience.

“The other wives and family members in our unit stayed in touch with one another, got together on occasion and just provided each other with a support system no other group could provide,” said Hartman.  “Second to faith in times of deployment, I would definitely encourage a knowledge of the family assistance resources and involvement in the Family Readiness Group.”

Click here for more information on the Family Assistance Center or call 1-800-372-7601.

Click here to see the Kentucky Nationa Guard Yellow Ribbon Facebook page.

And don’t forget to talk to your readiness NCO to find out more about your unit’s Family Readiness Group!

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