Community partners team with Kentucky Guard at State Family Readiness Workshop

Family Readiness Group volunteers and Kentucky Army National Guard Family Programs staff work together to solve a hands-on learning game during a team-building exercise at the state Family Readiness Workshop held in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 23, 2020. (photos courtesy of Kimberly Adkins, Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist)

By Kimberly Adkins, Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Roughly 20 volunteers attended this year’s State Family Readiness Workshop in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 22-23.

The two-day, annual event, hosted by the G1-Military and Family Services (MFS), allows MFS staff and volunteers to build a network, engage with military and community resources, and sharpen their readiness skills.

This year’s theme was “Survival of the Readiest.” It provided volunteers an opportunity to hone their skills in several areas.

(click here for more photos of the event)

Training included personal security training from Officer Towery of the Lexington Police Department, an online safety discussion led by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charlie Harris, and a resilience block of instruction from Soldier & Family Readiness Specialists (SFRS) Alli Burton and Amye Daniels. 

Mr. Craig Caudill, of Nature Reliance School, provided a keynote speech, while Mrs. Karen Lamberton, spouse of the adjutant general (SOTAG), provided additional inspiration to the participants.

Mrs. Karen Lamberton, Spouse of the Adjutant General of Kentucky, addresses the Family Readiness Group during the state Family Readiness Workshop in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 23, 2020. (photos courtesy of Kimberly Adkins, Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist)

Mrs. Lamberton spoke at length, discussing the importance of the National Guard, Soldier, and Family Readiness and being involved as the SOTAG. 

“I really wanted to get involved,” said Lamberton. “I don’t want just to be someone on the sidelines.” 

Encouraging the volunteers, she added, “We have such a gambit of people [sharing] their experiences and their level of involvement. We have to get our soldiers into the practice of bringing the information home so the families know what volunteer opportunities, benefits, and entitlements are available to them.”

Family readiness is essential to the overall mission readiness of the Kentucky National Guard. A Soldier’s deployability is directly related to the readiness of his or her family. The SFRG is designed to support and encourage families to be resilient and self-reliant. With the support of the SFRS, volunteers bridge the gap between families, communities, and the units they represent.

The G1-MFS presented the Outstanding Volunteer Award to Ms. Abigail Prang, Family Readiness Group leader for the “Renegades” of 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation. This award recognized her hard work during the unit’s recent deployment to the Middle East.

Ms. Phyllis Abbott, of Lady Veteran’s Connect, earned the Outstanding Community Service Award for her support of woman veterans, and they awarded Staff Sgt. Courtney Hogan with the unit-level Family Readiness Support Award for her dedication to the well-being of Soldiers and Families of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.

Harriett Taylor, Military OneSource representative, speaks to Family Readiness Group leaders on the tools and resources available to their Soldiers and their Families in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 23, 2020. (photos courtesy of Kimberly Adkins, Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist)

“You’ll never regret having the opportunity to help another military family,” said Heather Flanagan, a lead volunteer with the MEDEVAC aviators of 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation. “If you want to support your unit, we’ll get you plugged in with the right people.”

A vendor fair supplemented the training to provide an opportunity to network and share resources. Several organizations from the military community took part, including Military OneSource, Child & Youth Services, Education Services, and the Health & Wellness program.

Non-profits, such as Andrew Vernon & Associates, a veteran’s advocacy group, and Lady Veteran’s Connect, a woman veterans’ support organization, also joined the action.

 Jason Hutchison, the Veteran’s Program Coordinator from the Kentucky Career Center briefly addressed the group on the career, training, and employer services they provide to Guardsmen.

“Learning about the Child and Youth Program, a family building and support service, was phenomenal,” said Lamberton. “I think it cultivates a broader awareness in the community.”

In closing, she stated, “For me to come into this [Guard-family] world has been eye-opening. To recognize the commitment, sacrifice, and family centeredness, I can only feel inspired to encourage others to continue to do more.”

If you are interested in joining the KYARNG Volunteer Corps or attending future events, please call 1-800-372-7601 to connect with the Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist in your area.

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