When Soldiers in the National Guard get called for an assignment, they have to leave their family behind. They often don’t know where to turn when problems arise, and they have questions about what the unit is doing. This is where the chairman of the Family Readiness Group steps in.
When Robin Butts’s husband was called to Fort Campbell in 2003, Robin got a call from the Family Readiness Group (FRG). Robin had not even known the FRG existed before that phone call, so she asked lots of questions about what the FRG did. By the end of the call, the FRG invited Robin to be a part of the volunteer program and she agreed. Last June she received an award for her work with the Kentucky National Guard – the Adjutant General Coin.
Staff Sergeant Alan Jeter of Paducah Bank retired from the 2113th unit that Robin works with, and he explains that the Adjutant General Coin is a high award on the civilian side. He said, “Robin’s volunteer position ranks high on the civilian side as the contact person for the Soldier’s dependents. Her job is very important for the morale and well-being between the Soldier and the Soldier’s family. She’s pretty much the head of family support.”
This family support is why Robin volunteers. “I’m very passionate about this because our military families do need support.” She understands that during a deployment, families are worried, and unexpected situations sometimes arise that the family needs help dealing with. If a family needs help paying a bill, Robin will direct them to a resource. If a family member passes away and a Soldier needs to come home, Robin will help work with Red Cross to try and get the Soldier home. Even if a Soldier needs someone to keep a pet while on deployment, Robin will help find a home for the cherished animal.
The FRG also communicates directly with the commander of the unit and makes sure that the families receive correct information about their unit. Robin activates a phone tree when news needs to be delivered. When a new Soldier joins the National Guard, the Soldier’s family often knows nothing of military culture or procedures, so the FRG will support them and give them information.
All of this requires a lot of Robin’s time. She spends at least one weekend a month at the Armory. She’s required to fill out a lot of forms. When a deployment occurs, she and her team field all the questions. During a deployment, she checks voice mail and email several times a day to make sure families are taken care of. And she goes to training and weekend classes to stay up to date on available resources.
All of this sacrifice of time is ultimately for the benefit of the Soldier. Robin explains, “It all goes back to the Soldiers. Our family readiness team works together to support these special people serving our country. When military men and women are on a mission, they can be relieved of worrying about problems at home knowing we are there to take care of things for the family. We do this for the Soldiers.”