JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. –
Senior leaders throughout the 88th Readiness Division came together to participate in a Regional Soldier and Family Readiness Training (RSFRT) from August 6 to 8, 2021.
The training marks the first RSFRT event since the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically a year is required to prepare for RSFRT events; this preparation came at short notice and took 45 days to organize. National organizations and community partners from all over the country arrived to support the training mission with 72 attendees. RSFRT events are essential to ensure that command teams are meeting their Soldiers' needs and guarantee unit readiness.
“We bring in command teams, we bring in their command Family Readiness Representative, and their volunteers for their Soldier Family Readiness Group,” said Dominic Cirincione, Regional Family Programs director for the 88th RD. “We basically spent three days going over everything they could ever need to know about Family Readiness, what's required of them, and all the tools and resources they have available at their disposal to make it easier on the command teams to take care of Soldiers and families.”
COVID-19 innovated the approach and materials used in the training to refocus around the current needs of Army Reserve Soldiers. The component sees an increase in job loss and financial adversity that impacted Reserve Soldiers.
“The obligation to the military and serving their country, in COVID, has just added one more layer on top of what can be pretty challenging, '' said Sgt. 1st Class Darlene Adkins, 104th Division (Leader Training). “We’re glad to serve, and we are proud of our service and sacrifice. But you know along the way, in a Soldier’s career, we need some help.”
The interactive seminar provided units and members with a group approach to understanding finances, perspective, family, and unit relations, while emphasizing the importance of unit and individual readiness throughout the Army Reserve.
“The training helps leaders of units to help their Soldiers understand resources and to know that they’re supported,” Adkins said. “That goes a long way in resiliency, morale and develops cohesion as leaders get to know a little more about their Soldiers and Families. You usually build this during a family day, and the training is covering in detail how to set up successful family events.”
A separate session for senior noncommissioned officers and commanders provided an open session for senior leaders to express their challenges and concerns. A panel of experienced military leaders and community partners advised commanders on how to overcome challenges and limitations they face in meeting the goals of their units.
“The biggest challenge is the geographic separation, because it is very hard to have a family day where you can build that cohesion as a greater family unit,” said Col. Sherry L. Stenerson, assigned to the 214th Legal Operations Detachment at Fort Snelling, Minn. “When you've got Soldiers, maybe a third of your Soldiers are from more than 200 to 300 miles away, you'll never meet their families, you just don't have them.”
Stenerson also expressed that even with these challenges, commanders are capable of being active in their Soldiers’ lives and creating cohesion within units.
“We don't know the paths that our soldiers walk when they're not in uniform,” Stenerson said. “Having that connectivity with our Soldiers and being able to give them access to those resources, there's so much on a commander's plate, but events like this make you realize the wealth of support that's behind the entire Army Reserve Program.”
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