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Military Life: The Reality of FRG’s (Family Readiness Groups)

Don’t let other’s opinions dictate where you get support, make your own decision and participate.

So last night was another FRG meeting.  Information was put out, there was a speaker who educated everyone about some valuable resources and there was a potluck dinner so people could socialize and get to know one another.  Sounds good right?  Well………

For those of you who haven’t mastered the Military Slang (and my husband can attest to the fact that I still haven’t gotten the knack of it after all these years) an FRG is a Family Readiness Group.  It’s designed to be a communication system for families and soldiers helping the command disperse information and share resources to ease the stresses of typical Army life.

Now if you ask 20 different army spouses and their soldiers what their opinion of a FRG is you will hear things like: Gossip mill, Causes too much drama, Worthless Organization, Waste of Time, Great Way to meet people, Good Resource, Helpful and everything in between.  For me, it’s a little bit of all of those things.

I’ve been part of good FRG’s and not so good FRG’s.  There have been good leaders and awful leaders, and even the not so good ones provided  value IF I was involved.  And truth be told, some of my best “Battle Buddies” I met at a FRG event. But for so many people in the military, it just isn’t that way.

What I see often happens is that the people who don’t participate, the one’s who don’t contribute, the one’s who come in to “do their time”  tend to be the biggest whiners and complainers that I have ever seen. They have an entitlement attitude and very little appreciation for the people working hard trying to make their lives a little easier.  And last night was no different.

When the speaker was talking, people were rude.  More than once I heard comments about how awful it was or that “we could be home relaxing, but instead we are here for this stupid thing”. So many of the spouses and soldiers obviously didn’t want to be there, but instead of making the best of it and finding value, they just complained.  I can only imagine the conversations that took place on the way home. And that’s what I don’t understand.

Sure we are all busy. Sure our guys have been in the field ALOT. Sure I have better things to do on a Weds night.  But for an hour once a month, to get information that will make my life better, connect me with people who “get” what I’m going through, and provide me with the opportunity to meet the people my soldier spends so much time with, well to me, that seems important.

But the reality…. not many “Army Wives” see it that way.  To them the FRG is a necessary evil that is just a waste of their precious time. Some will even come out and say it directly to you.  And frankly I feel that  it’s rude to come to a potluck empty-handed and then dare to complain about how “stupid” the FRG is as you are filling your face with the food I brought!

No wonder the FRG’s get such a bad rap.  It’s that type of attitude that prevents people from having a good experience. And …it’s that kind of attitude that burns out the people who happen to volunteer. What I’ve found is that the people who help out the most aren’t the one’s causing drama, nor do they participate in the gossip.  It’s the whiners and complainers who stir things up.

The biggest problem with the FRG is not that there is gossip and drama, nor that the time spent at the events is “wasted”, (if you think about it, the people who gossip and cause drama are everywhere). Heck have you ever read some of the posts and responses on Facebook? That’s in itself could be  it’s own episode of “Army Wives”.

The biggest problem I see is that some people expect the FRG to do FOR them not WITH them.  People expect the volunteers to answer questions, come to their aid in an emergency and help them with all their issues even though they don’t participate at any other time. And often even if they are rude.  There was even someone who called asking what time her soldier was coming back from the field and was angry and very verbal when we couldn’t give her an exact time.  Is there ever an exact time when it comes to the Army?  Not that I can recall :), but because we didn’t give her the answer she was looking for, “the FRG is a worthless piece of dog doo doo”.

Newsflash to all of you FRG haters….The people who run and organize the events, meetings and fundraisers are all volunteers.  They do what they do to make a difference where they see a need. But more importantly they are spouses, moms, carpool drivers and so much more just like you.

So next time you are bashing the FRG, judging those volunteers who work hard to make your Army experience better or your soldier doesn’t want you to get involved because they have “heard” all about the awful thing that the  FRG is, I encourage you to reconsider.  Maybe even check to see if your attitude needs a little adjustment. Ask yourself if there is any truth to your opinions or are they hearsay, because my guess is that if you gave it a chance and participated a bit more, you will find that it is an incredible group with lots to offer you on so many levels. And if you continue to  find that there is always drama and gossip when you go, maybe you should take a look in the mirror.

There is value in what the FRG does (especially when your soldier is gone and you need support) and just because a few bad apples have given it a bit of a reputation doesn’t mean that you should hop on that band wagon!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject and how the FRG has made your life in the military richer!

 

~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com

 

4 Comments

  • jessica

    i agree with this whole post, except to say, there is always a problem when the people volunteering are only doing so to get recognition, not to actually help. as a former frg leader, it made my job alot easier if you were volunteering to help others, not just yourself. but frg, just like any aspect of life itself, is what you make it. if you go in with a good attitude, you will more often than not get what you need and are wanting out of it!

    • Judy Davis - The Direction Diva

      Jessica,

      Thanks for your feedback, and I agree with you about the fact that the reason people volunteer really affects the dynamics and support that any group offers. And like everything, attitude is everything! Thanks so much for all you do, being an FRG leader is often a thankless job, but so needed in the military communty! Have a great week!

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