Family Readiness Group holds Army community together

Commentary by Command Sgt. Major Jerry L. Reid, 21st Theater Support Command

When our Soldiers deploy to places that seem like a world away, our lives and our missions here do not grind to a halt. We stay in gear and move forward, thanks to the joint efforts of the Family Readiness Group and the element of the unit known as the Rear Detachment. Together, they do just what the term implies: They cover the rear.

The role played by Soldiers and families who hold down the fort during a deployment is paramount. In my years as a leader, I’ve found that it is just as important as the work our Soldiers perform in places like Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Our success in the Global War on Terrorism hinges upon the strength of the Soldiers and families left behind to tend to everyday tasks. In a tough fight with an opponent coming at you from all sides, you know you need someone to watch your back. Well, our Soldiers are immersed in such a fight now, and I know they face the enemy without having to look over their shoulders. They can focus on the mission at hand because someone is taking care of business, in the unit and at home.

Soldiers in the Rear Detachment face their own difficulties. Unit operations may be scaled back, nevertheless, they move forward, learning to do more with less.

In many cases, junior Soldiers step up and accept greater responsibility as the commander and first sergeant. They find themselves performing the same duties of the unit’s command group. They have command and control over all aspects of the unit.

When the main unit body deploys, it’s up to those detachment leaders to integrate and train new Soldiers who arrive in the unit, many straight from the school house. They not only help lead the unit, but galvanize the family through the FRG.

That’s no walk in the park when so much of the unit’s resources are focused on the deployment mission, and rightfully so. Our detachment leaders continue to navigate the numerous challenges they face. Their success is a testament to the overall leadership and training that occurs prior to a deployment. They are confident and prepared to maintain fully functioning units.

None of this would work without the community ties held firm by the FRG, which is the main artery between the unit and families. A group of family members and Soldiers, both enlisted and officer, form the heart of the FRG. They do more than bake cookies for sales and sip tea together. These volunteers provide uninterrupted social and emotional support, outreach services, and information to families throughout the deployment.
A successful FRG keeps families informed through tools such as a monthly newsletter, a current “phone tree” to quickly relay messages from the command, and by holding regular meetings. They also encourage Soldiers and families to participate in Army family team building classes that educate them on important Army issues.

Nothing influences a Soldier’s morale more than the well-being of his or her family. Through their relationship with the Rear Detachment and FRG, families know they are not left behind.

Action Line

Movie matinées and advertising events

I do not understand how we have three theaters in the KMC and not one of them could run a matinee during the week of spring break. Between the three theaters there was one PG movie offered that entire week. On Saturday and Sunday they had the normal afternoon movies but during the week, nothing. There is so little for children to do here as it is, can’t the on-base movie theaters support the children more?

I would also like to know why things are not advertised better. I have talked to one person who knew that teenage motivational speaker Bethany Hamilton was going to be visiting the base. She said the event was very poorly attended and the attendees were mainly small children. Bethany has a story to tell that many of these kids could draw strength from. It is a shame that people are willing to give of their time for the military and the military doesn’t get the word around the base. It may have been in the base paper but if it was it was a very small blurb. How about putting posters out so the teenagers could

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to address your question concerning theater matinees during holiday and summer breaks. Last year we featured matinees at all four theaters in the KMC during holiday and summer breaks. Regrettably, they did not generate the interest necessary to make it a regular part of our business. Once a film goes through the European circuit we store it at our film library where it can be pulled for showing. We do this on a regular basis to round out our schedules. The challenge is that once a film has come out on DVD, theater patronage drops off significantly.

Referencing last year’s holiday and summer matinées, the average attendance was 12 patrons per show. Movies shown included Shrek, Ice Age and Napolean Dynamite; each a blockbuster upon their release. Even at the low price of $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for children, customers do not come. What we can assure you of, is that when we do receive a new release G or PG rated movie during a holiday and summer break you will see increased matinees. The AAFES Reel Time Theaters would like to thank you for your patronage. We try to enforce a consistent excellent standard of service at all four of our locations. The 435th Services Squadron did extra publicity for Bethany Hamilton’s visit to include posters throughout the KMC Youth Programs and facilities that attract teenagers, plasma screen advertising, Services Spotlights, base newspaper notice and interviews on local AFN radio during Mike in the Morning. Unfortunately Bethany Hamilton’s scheduled stop brought her to Ramstein during Spring Break and a 435th ABW down day. We did have sizeable youth and parent turnouts at the events – 25 youth from Vogelweh Youth programs at the local swimming pool, Ramstein Library book signing, touring a C-17, and visited 35 wounded soldiers at the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility. We estimated Bethany signed 250+ autographs and copies of her book while visiting Ramstein and she did indeed make an impact on everyone she met.