Adapting to Recruiting….Not as Easy as I Hoped

      It continues to amaze me as I continue on our soon to be 15 year Army journey how different each assignment can be and the changes that we as spouses, our soldiers, and our families must adapt to.  As some know, my soldier and I are on a recruiting assignment. 

    I knew walking into this new adventure there would be changes to adapt to.  This would be the first time in almost 15 years of service that we would be away from a military community.  Fort McPherson in Atlanta closed right before we arrived in Georgia.  That meant, no commissary, no PX, no health clinic, and to my horror, no ACS. 

     Thankfully I have had some close army wives who have stayed in contact with me through the wonderful world of social media, which makes it so much easier to maintain close friendships and ties.  I had one spouse, who is a great friend of mine from Fort Eustis send my children advent calendars when I was unable to find any here in our area.  These relationships do help to keep me somewhat connected to my military family, but yet there is still something missing. 

     When you are on recruiting duty and you are not close to a military installation, you have to rely on what they call a Soldier and Family Assistance Program Manager (SFAP).  This person is basically a one-man or woman ACS.  At Fort Eustis, where we had been prior to this assignment, I had LIVED at ACS.  I participated in AFAP, was an AFTB instructor and helped my ACS in any way I could.  I met some amazing people there and made some wonderful and lasting friendships.  I also learned what it takes to run an ACS.  There were so many people working together to run all the many types of programs, classes, and events that ACS provides for Army Families.  To place all these positions and work on the shoulders of one person seems unfortunate and plain ridiculous, if you ask me. 

     I am learning too that our SFAP, though nice enough personality wise, is horrible at communication.  I have been here in Georgia since May 2011 and I have yet to speak to my FRG leader or receive her information, though I have asked for it numerous times from my SFAP.  I have inquired about many programs such as AFAP and AFTB and again have come up empty handed.  I can barely get my SFAP to answer emails or return phone calls. 

   I guess I have become spoiled by the amazing programs I was a part of at Fort Eustis, and I think it is making it harder to adapt.  I don’t feel like I should just sit back and accept this.  I think there should be more being done to help us adapt to this change and it should be a WHOLE lot easier to get my questions answered.  It always amazes me how many of the “higher-ups” I have spoken too about various issues throughout our time in the Army always come at me with the excuse, “Spouses don’t ask questions and they don’t use services that are available to them.”  Yet, here I am, an Army spouse, asking questions, and trying to empower myself so that I might adapt better and adjust to this new assignment and I can’t get anyone to return a phone call.  That tells me there is something really wrong here. 

    But as the Army spouse I have always been, I am determined to prevail.  I hope to somehow, someway bring change to this broken system and perhaps finally give spouses who arrive here in the Atlanta Recruiting Battalion some much deserved support!  I am just thankful for some amazing battle buddies who have helped to see me through this! 

Hooah!

Janet
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wave mama - December 6, 2011 - 12:51 am

as a military one source outreach assistant, i have heard this a lot from one of the recruiting battalions we have up here in nys/pa. there is a lot of adjusting that families have to do when they are far from the support network of a base. maybe military one source could help you get a hold of your FRG leader? they are pretty good at finding answers to stuff and if you need to find local military resources or navigate civilian heath care with tricare, they can help with that as well.

Marianke - December 6, 2011 - 12:56 am

From 2005- 2008 my husband was a detailed Recruiter in Wisconsin. We were not near Fort McCoy, and about an hour and a half from a Navy Training installation.
I was pretty new as the spouse of a soldier though. But I grabbed the opportunity to step up and learn as much as possible. This included stepping up as becoming the new FRG leader, and establishing an FRG from scratch. Mind you our company was very spread out, and from us being in the complete south east corner of the company, to other spouses being all the way in the north west, was about a 3 to 4 hour drive. FRG meetings were held every 3 months due to the distance, and our soldier recruiters who were parents needed to get off so they could take care of the children so that our spouses could come to the meeting. We met at company head quarters for about an hour to two hours. It took me an hour and a half to get there. Meeting with my co leader, sometimes at her house, took me 45 minutes. The distance was often a challenge, but my heart was with the families,… so I didn't mind.
We only had a few spouses come to the meeting, about 7-9 out of 32 families. Most did not care, because a lot lived near family and really didn't want to rely on the Army Family Readiness as they had their family there. But we let them know that if a military issue ever came up that their family could not help with, that we were there to guide them.
I also took AFTB courses online and then there was a combined AFTB instructor course at our neighbour battalion in Mineapolis, Minnesota. A 7 hour drive, 4 days, all paid for by the battalion. I taught AFTB classes during our yearly ATC's we had at the end of the year.
Our FRSA though was very much active in Army Family Readiness. I even offered spouses of future soldiers my info if they had ANY questions about the Army life. My husband usually referred them to me, as he said I could answer those questions better than him, he knew the Army Aspect of the life in the Army, I could explain the family life better. Guide them to resources that would be important to them and so on. I wish I would've done more with that, and would have taught AFTB classes to them, as they would really benefit from that. Maybe you can do that too?
See if you can contact the FRSA and see if you can set up AFTB classes for future military spouses, at your company HQ or husband's recruiting station, so that they are prepared to as what is to come?

Janet McIntosh - December 6, 2011 - 2:38 am

Marianke,

Thanks so much for your comment. I am completely on the same page as you. Personally, I don't think our company has an FRG leader and I really think the SFAP is just not telling me because I offered to take on the job but he insists we already have one – one I am still unable to obtain any contact information for.

I also have a passion to work with spouses, especially our newer spouses and I developed a program that I call, “The Army Empowerment Program”. I took this program to our SFAP as well and he once again declined to help. The program would have been a two-day seminar that would teach future spouses the level AFTB classes and give them a class on surviving deployments. It would have been really great for them. My soldier's station commander is also very unreceptive and basically told my soldier to relay to me that there is no FRG and to basically just get over it.

I am determined to find a way around these barriers. Thanks so much for your awesome advice and kind words!! You are appreciated!!

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