Story by SSG James Kennedy Benjamin on 03/14/2018
FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii Many people who were in Hawaii Jan. 13, 2018, thought it was going to be their last day to live. For more than half an hour after an inbound ballistic missile alert was issued, many residents and visitors to the tropical paradise were in a state of panic.
Since then the U.S. Army Reserve 9th Mission Support Command, headquartered at Fort Shafter, has been proactive in training and equipping not just their Soldiers, but their families as well in dealing with similar types of scenarios.
The 9th MSC's Family Programs office conducted a day and a half training for Family Readiness Group volunteers and liaisons from March 9 to 10 at the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Army Reserve Complex, Fort Shafter Flats.
The training focused on FRG best practices and on crisis and readiness management to better equip their Army reserve Soldiers, their families and units across the Pacific.
"Army programs and services enable readiness by helping Soldiers and Families mitigate the unique demands of military life, foster life skills, and strengthen resilience," said Brig. Gen. Douglas Anderson, commanding general, 9th MSC.
The first part of the training allowed regional FRGs from Hawaii, Alaska, American Samoa, Korea, Guam and Saipan to discuss area specific practices and issues impacting their families. For a senior FRG volunteer, this proved invaluable.
"I liked the exercises where we had to get into groups and discuss what worked well and what challenges we faced," said Dr. Sheila Woods, a retired command sergeant major with the 9th MSC and now a senior volunteer with the 962nd Quartermaster Company, 9th MSC. "This allowed the group to talk through issues and concerns and to hear some best practices from those who are currently active or those seasoned volunteers."
The second part of the training drilled into crisis and readiness management. Guest speakers from internal and external agencies shared their latest information on their functions and how FRGs could utilize their different resources. Some of the topics and resources discussed where on American Red Cross services, Army Community Services, Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System, Defense Support to Civil Authorities and Military One Source.
Woods said she enjoyed the small group discussions where individuals shared their experiences during natural disasters. The groups worked through the most dangerous and the most likely scenarios, while brainstorming plans on how to best prepare their families.
"It gave the participants first hand insight into things that went right and what could have been done better," said Woods, who lived in Hawaii for almost 26 years and now resides in San Antonio.
The 40 participants, who represented different units, who came to the training with little to no experience in preparing families for crisis left the training more prepared.
"After attending this training, our families have the tools and resources needed to guide them through the process if faced with a crisis," Woods said. "This training gave those who attended a baseline or foundation to build or start from."
For Anderson, Family Readiness plays a critical role in the command.
"The more trained and equipped our Families are at home, the better focused our Soldiers will be on their mission when deployed," Anderson said.
For Woods, FRGs serve a greater significance when Soldiers are deployed.
"Family readiness is important because when that times comes for our service men and women to deploythey are leaving behind their families and their support system," Woods said. "When our families are resilient and connected, they become a valuable asset not only to our Soldiers, but to the unit and to the community."