Strength of the families, Army

Compiled Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Adam V. Shaw
16th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

***image1***Brig. Gen. Scott G. West, commander, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, met with the 16th Sustainment Brigade Family Readiness Group leaders, Family Readiness Support assistants and senior leader spouses at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Jan. 24.

 “The visit lays the groundwork for the upcoming deployment and shows the senior leaders’ commitment to the spouses,” said Eric Jones, FRS assistant, 16th SB.

 FRG leaders from the 18th Combat Service Sustainment Battalion, 16th SB, Grafenwöhr, also spoke with General West, via video teleconference.

 “Anytime that you can bring the family leaders from all over the brigade together, it builds  cohesiveness − not just with each other, but with senior leadership,” Mr. Jones said.

 General West started the FRG meeting by referring to an AFN TV spot that features

Gen. David D. McKiernan, U.S. Army Europe commander,  and the motto, “Strength of the families, strength of the Army.”

 “Truer words have never been spoken,” General West said. “I couldn’t be a Soldier if my family didn’t support me.”

 General West also expressed the importance of getting family members to stay at their home station and addressed the concerns of families who plan to return to the U.S. when Soldiers deploy to Iraq, through a process the Army calls ‘early return of dependents.’

 “I know that it’s tough to be out here alone, but I encourage family members to stay in Europe,” said General West. “Even if they choose to leave, it is still our responsibility to the families to keep them informed and support them, no matter where they are.”

 The general, who has served in the Army for 32 years and married his wife, Patti, the day he joined, said family care is a top priority. General West and his wife have two daughters.

 “When the Soldiers deploy, so do the families,” he said as he addressed the family leaders. “We do a great job of taking care of the Soldiers while they are deployed. We need to make sure the families are also getting taken care of. You have every right to hold us accountable; don’t hesitate to ask.”

 The hour-long question-and-answer session reassured FRG leaders that the Army takes its commitment to Soldiers’ families seriously.

 “It’s important for family members to see that there is this umbrella that can take care of them and address concerns and issues,” said Sebrena Pitts, spouse of Col. Martin Pitts, 16th SB commander. “If the family is healthy, everything works itself out.”