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NEWS | Oct. 8, 2015

Family Programs update, 2015 and beyond

By Sgt. Ida Irby 200th Military Police Command

Strengthening our Army Reserve Soldiers means strengthening their families, providing a more resilient, adaptable and stronger service to the nation.

Family Program awareness training was featured during the 2015 U.S. Army Reserve Commander’s Conference held in Alexandria, Va., Sept. 14-16.

“Leaders. Take time to talk to Soldiers and their families,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command.

“We want them to stay in our organization. Share with them how they contribute to the organization, so that they know they are relevant,” he said.

“A year ago, our program coordinators volunteered to take part in work groups in order to move the program forward. Their efforts helped to enhance a lot of work that has already been done,” said Kimberly Franklin, Deputy Director, Army Reserve Family Programs.

“As we move towards 2025, this is what we want the future to look like. That future begins today,” she said

Accurate resources are essential for preparedness and total force readiness.

Commanders don’t take on the mass of family programs alone. Leaders were given tips on utilizing practical applications to assist them in reaching families.

“Many commands have limited funding or may think because there is no war, that FRG doesn’t serve a purpose. I disagree,” said Franklin. “Even with the downsizing of our Army, families (still) need support.”

“(Commanders must) learn how to network with families, and be proactive when reaching out,” said Franklin, who encourages each commander to engage their family programs director and coordinator.

“The commander sets the tone and determines what the vision is for Soldiers and families,” she said. “Coordinators work in support of the commander’s mission.”

Liaisons link families in need to programs and services that are available.

The impact of leadership taking time to invest in family support systems enriches the entire Army Reserve culture.

Patrisha Elliot can attest to its success.

Elliot lost her son while he was deployed to Afghanistan. As a Gold Star mother she now trains leaders about Family Programs, sharing her experiences to strengthen others.

“Because of the family programs staff, I had all the resources that I needed during that critical time, to include answers to my questions and resources,” reported Elliot.

Family Programs provide resources, educate families and keep them connected to the Army community.

Single Soldiers with family members not enrolled in DEERS are also encouraged to provide information to their commands, because each Soldier in the ranks has a family and that family is important to the Army.

“It is so true that the strength of our Soldiers depends on the strength of our families,” said Franklin.