One of the Army’s most senior military spouses visited the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and the KMC mid-September in order to gain a better understanding of family readiness efforts and other issues affecting service members’ families.
Linda Via accompanied her husband, Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general of Army Materiel Command, during his visit to Europe, diverting her own itinerary to concentrate more on community leaders and organizations.
As the spouse of the Army’s most senior sustainment-focused leader, Via spends much of her time providing family leadership and mentoring to communities supporting sustainment organizations throughout the Army, including the 21st TSC and its partner organizations in Europe.
Via attended a number of informational briefings throughout the Kaisers-lautern area, including a visit to U.S. Army Installation Management Command Europe, Army Community Service, the Sexual Harassment /Assault Response and Prevention Center, and the Department of Defense Education Activity Headquarters, all located on Sembach. She also visited Kaiserslautern High School on Vogelweh, where she spent time talking with students and staff members.
Throughout the week, several presentations and conversations focused on helping school children adapt better to living in Germany and getting parents more involved in their children’s lives.
Via’s whirlwind tour ended with her participation in the 21st TSC Family Readiness Executive Steering Committee Forum.
“We are in the process of redeveloping our Family Readiness Program,” said Col. Ronald D. Brown Jr., deputy commanding officer, 21st TSC. “We are happy that Mrs. Via is here today to give us some direction in making our Family Readiness Program much more user- friendly and effective.”
During the forum, spouses and parents presented their concerns, issues, and proposals for better and more cohesive communication between available resources and leaders, Soldiers and families.
“The intent of this committee is to assist key 21st TSC leaders on focusing to develop high-quality solutions and resources for the Soldiers and family members,” said Brown. “Our vision is to have engaged leaders who coordinate and facilitate our area so that we can identify risks and increase the readiness, performance, and well-being of military Soldiers and families.”
Via shared her thoughts and observations with the forum committee members.
“All of the issues that were brought up during this week affect everyone living here within the Kaiserslautern area,” she said.
Via also stressed how important it was for parents to be actively involved in their children’s school.
“It is great to participate as much as you can,” Via said. “Appeal to other spouses and ask if they have free time to volunteer at the schools and work with the kids. They can document these hours in their volunteer portfolio.”
“The 21st TSC command group is very aware of this issue of parental involvement,” Brown said. “This is a high priority for this command.”
Brown suggested that all parents attend the parent-teacher conferences which are held two times during the school year.
“This attendance helps connect the parents to schools,” Brown said.
Via suggested that all of the issues boil down to good communication efforts.
“Remember, it is nothing if it is not shared,” Via said.
She stated that communication actually starts with excellent sponsorship efforts.
“It is all about onboarding Soldiers and civilians when they arrive here,” Via said.
She also suggested adding important community presentations to the sponsorship checklist.
Via stressed the importance of every single person being involved in changing processes and sharing information.
“Do not turn your hand away from figuring out what you can do,” Via said. “Listen, take notes, roll up your sleeves and figure out how you can help. I don’t want you to underestimate the value of your support.”
Via also pointed out that living outside of the United States is truly a unique and positive experience.
“Please remember the increased value that military schools bring to the table. Look at the positive points,” Via said. “The schools are smaller. Your children have the chance to meet other children from all over the world. Share these and other opportunities with your children.”
Via closed by commending all members on the excellent programs and work they had already put in place.
“I want to thank all of you for everything you are doing and to continue to do,” Via said. “I can see from these meetings and presentations this week that Germany and Kaiserslautern are in good hands.”