Why you should reach out to your Family Readiness Group

Nov 4, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. ET

When the guys and gals leave for a tour of duty overseas it’s a tough time for all the spouses and family members.

Military wives talking

One of the most challenging aspects is the lack of contact that can sometimes result due to weather or safety conditions. The hardest part is sitting and waiting for a call from your loved one and not knowing why they haven’t called you.

One of the biggest ways to avoid being left wondering is to be in contact with your Family Readiness Group (FRG). The FRG is there to help information flow to the families within the military unit. They also provide various activities to help family morale. It’s no secret that there is a stereotype in the military community about FRGs. They are often considered cliquish and gossipy, and many military spouses avoid them like the plague.

However, those who avoid FRGs might not know that they can be your biggest lifeline during deployments. Sure, there are some rotten apples in FRGs but there are more reasons than not to make them your ally and not your enemy.

Keeping busy

FRGs (when they are active) are great for keeping you active and busy during deployments and long stretches of training. They typically put together picnics, dinners, kids' activities and more. This is a fun way to get out of the house and stay out of a deployment funk.

Potential friends

It’s wonderful to make friends on a military base but it’s even better to make friends with a spouse whose loved one is serving overseas with yours. Your FRG can provide a terrific opportunity to get some support from someone who is going through the same exact situation as you.

Hardship assistance

If an FRG is being run properly then they will try to be there in times of hardship for families. For instance in the last FRG I was part of, the members got together to cook a week’s worth of dinners for a military mom who had just had a baby via C-section while her husband was deployed. There were also many other instances in which a military family needed some kind of assistance and the FRG was able to get them the proper help.

A good cause

The FRG provides you with an opportunity to help others through bake sales, fundraisers and other activities. All of this helps the unit in some way, whether it lowers the cost of military ball tickets (to make them more affordable) or helps to create care packages for single soldiers in the unit during deployments.

The deployment scoop

The most important function of the FRG comes during deployments. There will be many times when a sandstorm will cause communication to go out, or a casualty causes a blackout, or you need to know when and where to pick up your soldier for his return from overseas. Chances are the way you will learn about these events is through the FRG. While you may not want to be completely involved with them, these are the people who will be your communication line during the most challenging part of military life — deployments.

More about military families

Military homecomings: It's not always like what you see on TV
6 Ways to keep the fire burning during deployments
How being married to the military is different than civilian marriage