Disaster training boosts readiness of Pacific Reserve families

| March 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii – Family Readiness Support Assistant Hokulani Bailey, seated, with the 9th Mission Support Command, discusses available Army Reserve Family Programs’ services with a Family Readiness Group volunteer at the Daniel K. Inouye Complex U.S. Army Reserve Center, March 9. Unit volunteers and liaisons from Hawaii, Alaska, American Samoa, South Korea, Guam and Saipan had the chance to meet vendors and talk about resources available to their area.

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. James Kennedy Benjamin
9th Mission Support Command

FORT SHAFTER FLATS — Many in Hawaii during the false missile alert on Jan. 13 thought it was going to be their last day on Earth. For more than half-an-hour after the alert was issued, until it was eventually corrected, residents and visitors were in a state of panic.
Since then, the U.S. Army Reserve 9th Mission Support Command, headquartered here at Fort Shafter, has been proactive in training and equipping not just their Soldiers, but their families as well, to prepare for similar scenarios.

The 9th MSC’s Family Programs office conducted a day-and-a-half training for Family Readiness Group volunteers and liaisons, March 9-10, at the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Army Reserve Complex.

FORT SHAFTER FLATS — Army Community Service Program Specialist Frankie Salas briefs Family Readiness Group volunteers and liaisons with the 9th Mission Support Command, Fort Shafter Flats, on resources available to reserve Soldiers and their families, March 9, at the Daniel K. Inouye Complex U.S. Army Reserve Center, Hawaii, during a FRG training. Since the false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii on January 2018, the 9th MSC has taken steps to better train and equip their families to respond during crisis. (Photo and cutline by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Kennedy Benjamin, 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 9th Mission Support Command)

The training focused on FRG best practices and crisis and readiness management to better equip units and families 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.

“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 who is 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 the latest information on their functions and offered advice on how FRGs could best use their different resources.

These resources included the American Red Cross, Army Community Service, Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System, Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and Military OneSource.

Woods said she enjoyed the small-group discussions, where individuals shared their natural disaster experience. 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 firsthand 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, came to the training with little-to-no experience in preparing families for crisis and left 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.

“The more trained and equipped our families are at home, the better focused our Soldiers will be on their mission when deployed,” he said.

Woods concurred.

“Family readiness is important because when that times comes for our service men and women to deploy…they are leaving behind their families and their support system,” she 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.”

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