Family Support Groups Honored
By Doug Sample
Department this month recognized what one official called a "key
component" to mission readiness that greatly enhanced the
deployability of Guard and Reserve forces.
not a new weapons program. Rather, it’s a group of people whose
support for the military on the home front contributes to mission
The 2004 Reserve
Family Readiness Awards were handed out Friday at the Pentagon
Hall of Heroes to seven organizations for their efforts supporting
deployed Guard and Reserve units.
Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Thomas F. Hall, who hosted
the event, noted that 178,000 Guardsmen and reservists are mobilized
now, and more than 470,000 have been mobilized since Sept. 11,
2001. Hall said the military could not have achieved that feat
without the help and support of family readiness groups throughout
not just those who are mobilized, but those who are doing the
support day in and day out that we don’t always see that help
make this program so wonderful."
comes from people like Marianne Breland, a family program coordinator
with the Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson, Miss.,
one of the groups recognized.
seen her husband, Randy, deploy twice in recent years. The 172nd
has about 50 of its members currently deployed, some of them in
Iraq and Afghanistan. As the leader of one of the largest family
readiness groups in the Air National Guard, Breland works with
hundreds of families to help them resolve problems at home during
She said one
of the problems that spouses face the most is the stress of "having
to deal with issues they’re not normally faced with."
the everyday things that I now had to take care of," she
explained. "Taking care of home problems, car problems, a
lot of times spouses are not prepared for all the extra weight
they have to handle when their loved one is deployed."
her personal situation, having three children, two of them teenagers,
Breland said family readiness groups have been helpful throughout
her military experience and that the groups have become and important
asset for military families.
were people who wanted to reach out to help me while my husband
was deployed, but the ones that helped me the most were the spouses
and families of those who knew exactly what I was going through,"
She said that
many problems her group deals with are financial, because spouses
often leave civilian jobs that pay much more than their military
salaries when activated. In addition, she said, children of deployed
servicemembers have to deal with anxiety.
deployment causes more hardship on families," she said. "When
my husband deployed for the first time, my son sort of ‘stepped
up to the plate,’ excelled in school, did a really good job,"
she explained. "This second deployment has been more for
him to handle, and he’s had a lot more problems to deal with emotionally."
a volunteer coordinator with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines,
whose husband, a Marine sergeant, is serving in Iraq, said it
has also been difficult with her husband away. However, she said,
programs the military has in place to help families has made it
"easier this time around."
military has now decided that families are just as important,
so they’ve put programs like this in place to help relieve some
of the stress," she said.
out that many people think family readiness groups are "just
about making sandwiches for the Family Day." But it’s much
more than that, she said.
London native, said she got involved with her family readiness
group because when she came to America, "I fell in love with
the country and I fell in love with the military," she said.
In fact, Houston recently joined the Naval Reserve as a religious
Reserves are very special group of people, and I want the country
to know just how much the Reserves do for this country,"
Steve King of Iowa, during an emotional talk at the ceremony,
said the gratitude Congress has for military families cannot be
here stronger because of sacrifice, rather than weaker,"
he said. "And we will stand by all of you. I could not be
more grateful for the contribution you all make."
readiness groups recognized were: