The military has recently established a formal family readiness program. Each unit in the Navy and Marine Corps has a Family Readiness Officer (FRO), each unit in the Army has a Family Readiness Group (FRG) headed by government employed civilians, and each Air Force Base has an Airman and Family Readiness Center. These services help keep family members informed as to their service members during deployment and coordinate social events for families to facilitate a unit family community.
Although you are not required to participate in Family Readiness Events, you are strongly encouraged to maintain at least a minimal relationship with the FRO, the FRG, or with your unit’s representative at Airman and Family Readiness Center. You will receive official updates on unit activities whenever your service member is away, whether in training or on deployment. Remember, updates from this source are official and will not give details that might violate Operations Security, or OPSEC.
More specifically, the family readiness program can get messages to the unit in case of emergency. If you have to report a death in the family, hospitalization, or other serious incident, the FRO will notify your service member’s command, who will in turn make all possible effort to give your service member a chance to contact you, depending on current operations and missions.
Also, the Family Readiness personnel can help with more ‘normal’ emergencies by connecting you with other spouses and families who can help watch your children if you need to take your car in, with a chaplain or a counselor if necessary, with your service member’s administration department if there’s an issue with paychecks or ID cards while he/she is gone, or with various relief societies in the event of financial difficulties.
Your service member will be required by his/her unit to identify his next-of-kin (NOK), and during deployments Family Readiness personnel will use this information to contact you with updates.
Family Readiness personnel also may organize pure social events, such as deployment dinners, and events where you can meet your service member’s leadership. If you are interested, they often give classes on military customs, courtesies, and structure.