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NEWS | Nov. 29, 2016

A Roundtable Discussion to Build Ready and Resilient Families

By Spc. Brianna Saville 416th Theater Engineer Command

DARIEN, Ill. - The 416th Theater Engineer Command hosted ‘A Roundtable Discussion to Build Ready and Resilient Army Families’ on Tuesday, November 15, 2016.  The special guests in attendance included Mrs. Hollyanne Milley, Spouse of General Mark A. Milley, 39th Chief of the United States Army, Mrs. Julie Luckey, spouse of Lt. General Charles D. Luckey, Chief of the Army Reserve and Mrs. Danette Hayes, spouse of Major General Richard J. Hayes Jr., Adjutant General, Illinois National Guard.

The agenda for Tuesday’s discussion was to share, listen, take and give. Participants in the discussion included just a bit of everyone from the branch of the United States Army and even a few outside civilian support channels.

Spouses of Army Reserve, Army National Guard and active duty Army joined in on the discussion. Soldiers from all three components participated as well.

Everyone who participated came forward with key concerns, with the main ones being improving the outlook of Family Readiness Groups (FRG), healthcare and employment.

Participants shared some issues that they have personally had or have seen within their own small army communities. Everyone listened to these issues and took pointers from them. Some people were even able to give advice as to ways to avoid these issues in the future.

A few participants even brought up how the FRG looks on the outside.

Katie Jessup, spouse of Cpt. Joel Jessup has had the opportunity to wear both hats. She’s been the soldier, and now she is the military spouse. “ My initial picture of the FRG was painted in a negative light while I was actively serving as a soldier. I carried that negative look with me over to my spousal perception of the FRG. It wasn’t until recently, when I actually gave the FRG a chance, when I learned, that the organization isn’t what I thought it was.”  She gave advice on how to engage spouses and show positivity within the FRG.

Cpt.  IshChuna McDonald, an AGR soldier with the 416th TEC, expressed her concern for healthcare. She is the mother of an exceptional child. With her being AGR, she has gone through a PCS (permanent change of station) seven times since 2004.

Every time she PCSs she is told that her son is in the system so he should be good to go. Cpt. McDonald has found that being in the system isn’t guaranteed as good to go. She was able to share her experience and give insight on ways to find healthcare faculties (outside of military bases) that accept Tricare and are more then ready to help and be there for military families.

Many spouses expressed the concern with employment for both their spouse and themselves. Being Reserve or National Guard, employment has it’s own issue when dealing with civilian employers.

The harsh reality that some of these families have faced is being demoted or even unemployed when coming home from deployment. Other soldiers were able to bring to the light that, not only is this unethical, it’s illegal. They were able to give advice and resource on how to deal with situations like this.

Of course not all questions and concerns could be addressed. But Mrs. Milley, Mrs. Luckey and Mrs. Hayes took detailed notes on how to resolve these issues.

Overall, Tuesday’s Roundtable discussion was very informative. A great way to have your voice heard about any issue that you carry as a spouse, family member or soldier.