MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Family Readiness Officers and Family Readiness Volunteers are always willing to help any military family who needs it. The FRO’s and their assistants have organized a system to streamline information so families can be well informed and understand what is happening with their Marines overseas.
The women involved in the Combat Center’s Unit, Personal and Family Readiness Program make it their job to help others.
“When I started with the military, there was no Family Readiness Program, I was alone and had a hard time getting information,” said Jillian King, the battalion family readiness officer for 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. “When they opened up a FRO position to civilians, I jumped on it. We now provide information and communication between the military and their families”
The FROs act as a bridge between a Marine’s family and their unit. The UPFRP is organized in a way which a FRO can disperse information, using their family readiness assistance to get information to the Marines in different companies and their individual families.
When information is spread, families start coming together and the support for the Marines is outstanding, said Debra Lopez, the family readiness officer for 3rd battalion 11th Marine Regiment.
“We are family, we can rely on each other,” Hunter said. “When families feel included they want to get involved.”
The men and women involved in the UPFRP work because of a desire to reach out to military families in need.
At times, families are hit with hardship. Jillian King recalls a time in her life when she needed the programs the military now offers.
“When my husband was hit with an improvised explosive device, that’s when I realized how important the programs were,” said King. “It’s been my drive to give back to the families, kind of like the movie ‘Pay it Forward.’”
FROs and FRAs not only stream line information but also share the hardship military families endure.
Because of the loneliness which military families must face during deployments, the FRO and FRA representatives reach out and offer a support network to spouses of deployed Marines and sailors.
“I didn’t know anybody, that’s what pushed me, no more being alone, no more being secluded. I finally realized that I am a military spouse and this is my life too, I will be involved,” said Brandy Hunter, a family readiness assistant for 3rd LAR.
FROs and their assistance can also relate with the struggles military families go through, like the loneliness of deployments, unknown territory, or stress from worry about their Marines.
“I was there, I know what its like to be here by yourself, and you don’t know anybody here, I can relate to that,” said Debra Lopez, the family readiness officer for 3rd battalion 11th Marine Regiment.
“We’ve been inspired by people in our lives that we connected with before these programs, and we want to reach out and do more because we’ve been touched by people who guided us through it,” Hunter said.
For information on what the UPFRP has to offer, contact your unit’s FRO.