Alright - Everyone with a horror story about FRGs, right hand up. Everyone with a story about the great stuff that happened in an FRG , left hand up. Wow, lots of “touchdown” hands there, folks!
All of us, and oh boy, am I including myself in this, have the horror story about the awful leader, or the catty spouses, or the lies spread to the guys downrange, the stupid meetings with the dumb games, the lack of anything to do for those with/without kids… there are as many of these stories as there are military spouses. No, I’m not asking y’all to share those with us right now… we’ll open a “get THIS one” page, ok?
BUT, there are as many of us who remember the good things from FRGs, great cookie baking/care package packing parties, with laughter and stories and a little vino maybe thrown in; or the chance meeting with someone who really needed to talk, or was there to listen; or the phone calls just checking on you during deployment [thanks, Mary]
So the latest incarnation of the uber rank conscious/rank pulling abusive FRG leader out of Fort Bragg has started this discussion, again. On Facebook, on various blogs – the questions are flying. What is the FRG for? Who should run it? Are FRSAs working out the way we were told they would? I’m not going to even try to answer these questions. I will say that, from what I’ve seen in both Guard and Active FRGs, it depends on the command. If Command cares, the FRG flourishes. If Command is just checking the box on the evaluation form, the FRG either becomes moribund or self destructs in a giant flurry of hurt feelings, tears, anger, recriminations and now – the news and Army Times.
Is this, maybe, the big scandal that will cause actual change to happen? Is airing our dirty laundry for all civilians to see as well, a wake up call for leadership? Is this what it takes to make the “powers that be” wake up and realize that FRGs, for all their great intentions, are being run by the volunteers who have gone through one deployment too many, funded by cupcakes sales to ourselves? Do we want either paid personnel, spouses of veterans who’ve “been there, done that”, or to keep relying on the volunteers who are sometimes eager and willing to take on the challenge? For some units, would it be better to have a leadership group, not just one person on whom it all ends up falling, and should we get away from the “commander’s spouse” exemplar.
I’ve got a lot of questions, but I will agree with Sue Hoppin; let’s not forget that for all their faults, there have been great FRGs, great FRG leaders (yes, Mary, that’s you) who care about the spouses and families that are part of the unit, and who work tirelessly for those families, within the bureaucracy that has overburdened them with rules, regs and requirements. If you are an FRG leader, a Key Volunteer, ombudsman, stand up, take a bow. We appreciate you! BUT – if you see that you are uncomfortably close to being the Col’s wife in the Ft. Bragg story or Lenore in ArmyWives, step back, step aside. Let the FRG be lead by the person who wants to help, no matter his or her spouse’s rank or leadership in the unit; not to enhance his or her own ego or “assist” the servicemember they are married to.
Right – there’s my take on this latest kerfuffle – what do you think? Any solutions, suggestions?