Armucation: FRG

Because being in the military is a life style for the entire family, the military has instated a group to help all individuals in the family feel connected and knowledgeable about the events going on with their soldier.

That is how the FRG was born. It stands for Family Readiness Group.

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This group is made at the company level, which is about 100 soldiers. It encompasses the soldiers and the families.

So once a month, Tom and I go to a classroom to meet with all the other members of his company and their families. It depends on the FRG leaders and company commander whether single soldiers are included in this or if it is just the soldiers who are married. Ours is everyone.

At these monthly meetings, the company leaders go over the next month’s schedule. I find this really helpful to know how the training is going to look and when Tom will be away or when he has a DONSA (day off).

They will also provide us with resources or any other announcements that will pertain to us. For example, at the last meeting there was someone from the job center who talked about resources their office has.

This is often where we find out the most recent information about deployments.

The FRG does have some leaders that are the soldiers spouses. There is an FRG leader, who is usually a higher officer’s wife. Then each platoon in the company will have a POC (Point of Contact). This person will help disseminate information and do call outs to all the spouses in their particular platoon. They also have an FRG treasurer, again another spouse.

Depending on the FRG, there may be other things besides these monthly meetings that they plan. Some FRGs have parties or events throughout the year. Ours did a lot during the summer, but we have not done as much this winter. We have had quite a few potlucks at the monthly meetings though. Any events are usually family oriented and kid friendly. I mean “family” is in their title.

The FRG will still meet when the company is deployed. I am interested to see how it changes when all the men are not there. I was in Iowa last time, and I would just get the PowerPoints from them. I am sure that this gives us spouses a great chance to get to know each other too.

It is a pretty simple group. Since there are so many of them, they can change drastically on how they look though. We have even seen a change in this FRG since the new leadership arrived. So what the group will do will depend on both the spouses involved as well as the company leaders.

As you can see it is quite different than what the show Army Wives depicts.

It seems like I learn things about the Army every day.  I am by no means an expert at all things Army, but I love exploring new topics and sharing what I see as a military spouse.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Armucation.

Do you have any questions about military life? Do you have any topic you would like me to write about? Feel free to ask away!

PCSing..whoseywhatsits

Today, I am linking up with Ashley from Eights on the Move for Military Monday and PCS Adventures.

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I thought Student Affairs was bad with acronyms. That field has got nothing on the military.

PCS or Permanent Change of Station is basically the military’s way of saying moving for your job.

I am finally feeling like we have settled in from our PCS in May.

In the military, you can have the government pack and move you if you so choose. Tom and I decided to do a DITY (Do-IT-Yourself) move, which is where we move ourselves and then get paid by the Army.

We ended up saving/gaining some mula doing it this way. This way, I also had control over it and knew where everything was. Plus with the timing of things from my exit from Iowa State, we were able to get moving help from my end as well with loading the truck.

Double score.

Many people take this opportunity to travel and see the sites along the way to their new abode. Unlike others, we did not do anything extravagant on the way here. Our road trip was simple-get there as fast as we can. I get really stressed out on road trips-mostly because I get restless and cranky. We just wanted to get out of that Uhaul and into our new space. Plus sight-seeing can be somewhat difficult with a pooch. So we just drove through Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky stopping as little as we could.

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I was so lucky to have Tom help with the moving process. I am a little terrified of driving. (Seriously, I have a panic attack about driving on a weekly basis.) So driving this bad boy is a nightmare for me. I couldn’t imagine doing it without him, which is what many military families have to plan for. We have been thinking about what the next move will look like and the timing of his exit out of the Army and the next deployment. There are a lot of things to consider, but we aren’t going to worry about that just yet. But I am leaning more towards using PODS, especially since the Army will not pay for you to move “out.”

I am not sure which option is better. They both have pros and cons to it. I think you have to figure out what is best for you and your situation. It may look completely different if there are kids in the mix and depending on where you are going.

Maybe we would have taken more time if the trip would have needed to take several days across country anyway. Also if we were PCSing to say Italy or Hawaii, I think sight-seeing would be in order…all the time.

Regardless, I am glad the move is done and our PCS story has been written.

But the thing is, with the Army, someone is always PSCing. Tom’s unit seems to be doing all kinds of turnover. I feel like every day he comes home talking about another new person. It is really difficult to keep track. I need him to make the Army version of a family tree to keep it straight, along with their titles.

With this you have to say goodbye to people that you have gotten close to and learned a great deal from. You do this in any move really, but the frequency is probably not as high as it is in the military. It is just part of the deal with the Army. You get to meet a lot of people along the way, but they may not always stay in your neighborhood.

Tom just recently said goodbye to his platoon sergeant. Tom was the driver of his vehicle in Afghanistan, so he got to know the Sgt. pretty well. Plus, I think Tom was attached to him more because this Sgt. was his first out of basic and for his first deployment. But that is me just speculating the sentimental. His wife was also the FRG leader who answered all my questions while Tom was deployed and I was in Iowa.

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To show their appreciation, the company pooled together to get him a gift. Tom of course went into creation overdrive to make it the best thing ever. And it is one of the coolest things I have seen, so of course I have to share it!

They bought him a gun and had it engraved with special emblems for the brigade and company. It looked pretty snazzy! Then Tom made a box that looks like the boxes that everything came shipped in while they were in Afghanistan.

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The fun thing about this, was that Tom took a lot of time and energy to make it look like he didn’t care about the details. He was very particular about making it look like it had been on deployment.

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He then bought foam padding and also used the padding from the box the gun came in to cushion the gun while moving it.

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Even though I didn’t get to see this, it was fun hearing how the company gave the gift and the reactions from everyone. This family will be missed when they move to California!

More Than Ever

Recently Tom had surgery at the on-base hospital. He had to be knocked out and sliced open. Someone had to go with him to be his partner and follow the doctor’s instructions, get his medications, and other things that you do for someone who just got their stomach ripped apart.

That someone was me-his wife.

I have been titled an Army spouse. My ID says I am a dependent. I had to show my marriage license to get this badge of honor.

This ID then opens “gates” to get onto base, to get his meds, to sign different documents, etc. This little piece of plastic has guaranteed me a lot of things as his partner in life.

While Tom was on deployment I received his checks and benefits.

I am his power of attorney in case the worst were to happen.

It was a great solace for him and I when he was on deployment knowing that I was able to take care of things if needed. (Except for that whole credit card thing, and no I am still not over it..)

I was able to do that because some politicians have decided that I am “blessed” to be straight. I have the “right” to be married because I was born liking the opposite sex.

Seriously?

Why am I granted this freedom when some of my closest friends are not? We have the same diplomas, came from similar families, have brothers and sisters, have similar faith systems, and live in the same neighborhoods. We both love with our whole hearts and have decided to be with one person forever.

Why are service-members that my husband fights with not able to have the peace of mind knowing their husbands and wives will have benefits while they are away and can deal with the day to day without any extra red tape or people saying, “I don’t think so.”

Deployment was hard enough with the realities of war. I cannot even begin to imagine it without the support and safety-net of the spousal privileges. And the communication you receive from the FRG only goes to spouses. The FRG was my main connection to the Army and helped me understand what is going on and what to expect. This group gave me information that I needed to feel better about the deployment and feel like I had some people to reach out to if ever needed. They were my life line and sense of stability some days. In deployment times you need to know you have that security, because some days that is all you have. At some bases, same sex spouses are banned from these organizations. Banned from hearing first hand when their spouse is coming home and the best way you can support them.

To think that our children could be impacted negatively by our love instead of profoundly brought up by it because of someone holding your parents back because your parents happen to be the same sex.

Like Major Shannon McLaughlin and her wife, Casey McLaughlin

To think that I would not be able to live on base with my husband and share our lives together.

Like Marine Captain Matthew Phelps and his soon-to-be husband Ben Schock

These are just two of the thousands of love stories.

Love stories–We grew up adoring Love stories and rooting for happy endings. (Well at least I did.) So why is there so much hatred towards them now? Why isn’t the solution obvious? Love is love. Love is about hearts not parts.

I know I get to have the peace and ease of being married already with the “government” blessing and benefits. And it may not mean much for me to fight for something I already have for myself. I realize my massive following of 25 people on this blog may not go far. But as an human, I could not stand idly by. So instead of changing my profile picture, I write.

I am big supporter of marriage. If you have read any of my words before, you know that I think marriage is awesome. So I am a big proponent of marriage for anyone who decides to make that commitment to another person.

Marriage to me is much more than what a piece of paper says, but unfortunately the reality is there are some doors that open because of that paper.

My words may be small and not far reaching, but I hope that people take the time to listen to the real stories and struggles and think about their choices and behaviors when they decide to pass judgement. Get to know real stories so you can understand the impact of your own judgements. We all came in this world alike and will leave alike. We breathe the same air. Our hearts beat. Period the end.

Show a little humanity will you? Have we all forgotten the golden rule that we were taught in kindergarten? “Treat others as you wish to be treated.”

Gosh life was simple then. Play, count, have snack, play, learn ABCs, play, nap…

Someone wise once told me, “Be as human as you can be.”

I ask that everyone dig a little bit to figure out what that means to you. Ask yourself if how you feel/act is really being “human.” If your answer is always yes, good for you. You are a saint. If not, jump on the self-reflective train with the rest of us.

This week our country will change dramatically with the decisions that the Supreme Court will be sharing one way or the other, and hopefully sharing soon.

For this couple and so many others, I hope that the SC decides in love and what I believe to be equality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=sb2Pi5M4LEE&feature=endscreen

Bill and John have a breathtakingly beautiful love. During this video, I laughed, cried, nodded in agreement as they explained some of the day to day of marriage, and then I was heartbroken. Heartbroken that there are people who don’t see this as real emotion and real love. I mean seriously, those selfies they took are just delightful.

For goodness sake, it is just two people loving each other. Your feelings have nothing to do with their marriage.

Oh wait they do…says every law saying a marriage is between a man and a woman. Until when…

I am optimistic that others can see that Bill and John deserved what I have been granted.

I hope my words are crafty enough for you tonight. Thank you for bearing with my ramblings.

Love one another more than ever.

freedomtomarry.org/military