National Guard and Reserve Families: We Know You Need Support, Too
By: Jenna Lang, Legislative Coordinator
The National Guard and Reserve troops make up approximately 40-50% of the military forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Army projects an increase in the use of Reserve Soldiers in 2017 to meet operational needs. But unlike active duty, Reserve and Guard families often do not live anywhere near a major military installation, and with that distance, the vital link of support for those military families is missing—especially during a deployment.
According to Robyn Mroszczyk, a Family Program specialist at the National Guard Bureau and NMFA Volunteer, getting Guard families the resources they need is critical, but finding the best way to get those resources to families isn’t easy.
What can be done?
Education, education, education! Numerous studies conclude that military family members incur less stress and hardship when connected through military family programs during deployments. Reserve and Guard spouses are less likely to know what benefits they qualify for, and are less likely to use on-base services (due to geographic location). If families know programs exist, like those sponsored by the Department of Defense, and understand how to access them, Guard and Reserve family readiness will thrive.
What are some example services?
Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) is a vital aspect of deployment for Guard and Reserve families. YRRP connects families to their community and ensures family members are educated on the services available to them during a deployment. And that support starts before the deployment even begins. YRRP hosts events for units deploying, where families spend time learning about the programs and services available to them.
MilitaryOne Source is an excellent free resource available to Guard and Reserve families regardless of activation status. Their confidential counseling is available 24/7, and assists military families with a wide range of issues, including financial and legal assistance, and pre-deployment readiness.
Army Reserve Family Programs connect soldiers, their families, and the community, and serves as an excellent starting point for Army Reserve families navigating through piles of information they receive to help them succeed during a deployment. Also available is Fort Family, providing 24/7 crisis assistance to Reserve Soldiers and their families.
Guard families can access Joint Services Support, which offers a wide range of services to help meet the unique needs of their families. Family members must sign up and create a login in order to access most areas of this site.
Many other programs available to Guard and Reserve families have social media pages, like the National Guard Family Program. One ‘like’ on a program’s page will ensure you get information needed to help your family thrive. And you can easily share it with other Guard and Reserve families to help get the word out!
What else can be done?
Ensuring that Guard and Reserve families have the support they need is crucial and takes funding and training. Funding guarantees programs designed specifically for the education and support of Guard and Reserve families are in place. And having qualified, well-trained leaders responsible for large numbers of Reserve families during deployments only further strengthens family readiness.
Our Reserve and Guard families sacrifice the same as all other military families, and the best way to continue to stand in solidarity and support of them is to insist programs are available and beneficial to them.
Posted April 5, 2017