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Family Readiness Group Handbook

Handbook 07-30
July 2007

CALL Handbook 07-30: Family Readiness Group Handbook Cover

Greatest Challenges

Appendix A

Subject: Rear Detachment Management of Family Issues 

1. Purpose: To provide current and future rear detachment commanders (RDCs) with information concerning tactics, techniques, and procedures and best practices for managing family issues during deployments. 

2. Facts: RDC is a challenging position, both personally and professionally. Part of the challenge comes from the expanded scope of responsibilities in the unit. The greater part of the challenge comes from the interaction with Families. Typical Army leaders are not well-groomed at early stages in their careers to deal with Families and their associated issues. Understand that each post is different, but the concepts remain constant. 

a. Case Review Committee (CRC). The CRC is a committee designed to investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, or nonsupport issues involving the Soldier, spouse, or child. 

  • Unit is notified via telephone, e-mail, and letter. 
  • Unit sends the commander or first sergeant (1SG) to represent the interests of the Soldier and unit. The unit representative: 
    • Provides additional information. 
    • Participates in recommendations. 
    • Does not vote. 
    • Understands and enforces treatment recommendations. 
  • Participants include: 
    • Social works services 
    • Doctors 
    • Military police investigators 
    • Case workers 
    • Victim advocates 
    • Judge advocate general representative 
  • Determinations: 
    • Substantiated 
    • Unsubstantiated 

Do not notify the forward unit until recommendations are known in order to avoid issues of possible false allegations or misunderstandings. 

b. Well-Being Board. The Well-Being Board is designed to investigate quarters issues such as animal neglect, unsanitary quarters, misconduct in quarters, and abandoned quarters. 

  • Unit notified via e-mail. 
  • Unit sends the commander or 1SG to represent the interests of the Soldier and unit. The unit representative: 
    • Provides additional information. 
    • Makes recommendation. 
  • Participants: 
    • Garrison command sergeant major (chairs the Board) 
    • Department of Public Works 
    • Military police investigators 
    • Department of Engineering and Housing 
  • Determinations: 
    • Warning letter 
    • Termination of quarters 
    • Immediate termination of quarters 

Do not notify the forward unit until a determination is released. The Soldier may not receive basic allowance for housing if quarters are terminated (determined by the RDC). 

c. Finance and debt collectors. Debt collectors and finance issues require such persistence and finesse in resolving that most units place an E6 in a separate duty position as the command finance NCO (CFNCO). 

  • The RDC is not responsible to collect debts. The RDC is required to counsel Soldiers for indebtedness. 
  • The CFNCO is on point for: 
    • Bounced checks. 
    • Letters of indebtedness. 
    • Contacting repeat offenders. 
    • Offering assistance: Use financial instruction as a gate to continued assistance. 
  • Keep records; document meetings and plans of action. 
  • Occasionally notify forward of recurring offenders. 
  • Refer to legal assistance when in doubt. 

d. Non-support issues: 

  • Review AR 608-00, Family Support, Child Custody, and Paternity. 
  • Get to know the POC at the local Inspector General’s office. 
  • Forward all notices on nonsupport to the company commander for action. 
  • Know the requirements. 
  • Train platoon sergeants on requirements; resolve issues internal to the Rear D. 
  • Document everything. 
  • Provide the required counseling. 
  • Follow up with MyPay. 
  • Allotments are the best method of payment. The paper trail is easily tracked by the forward unit.

Section II: Operations Security (OPSEC) 

As Soldiers deploy, they will relay news and events to family and friends at home, and friends and family will do what they can to find out information about Soldiers, their units, and their missions. These circumstances can become troublesome for OPSEC officers, the Families, and the Soldiers. With some training and planning, everyone can overcome these problems. 

Soldiers and family members often do not know that innocent requests and news from the units can become OPSEC issues. Our enemies can easily intercept information through e-mail, phone, and Internet chat sessions. Units and Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) must make Soldiers and family members aware of  possible OPSEC violations before the unit deploys. Units have been successful in establishing secure video teleconferencing and voice between deployed Soldiers and facilities on post for communication between family members and Soldiers, greatly reducing OPSEC concerns. 

Information-gathering has moved from the passive listening mode to active collection from deployed servicemember’s Families. There have been recent attempts to gather family member personal information, such as social security numbers and birth dates. FRGs must make Families aware of these threats and their potential damage. Servicemembers and their Families must report any OPSEC collection attempts to the post intelligence office or counterintelligence (CI) facility directly, not through the FRG or the Soldier’s chain of command. Examples include the following: 

  • Some families of UK soldiers have been contacted by the enemy 
  • Scammers who say the servicemember is hurt or killed to gain information (Families need to know the procedures to spot scams) 

The protection of deployed Soldiers depends upon OPSEC control at both the Soldier and family levels. All Soldiers and family members must receive OPSEC and Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the Army (SAEDA) training before deployments. This training and increased awareness will limit threats against deployed Soldiers. 

Lessons Learned 

  • Rear detachments and FRG leaders must know the correct reporting procedures when Soldiers and family members receive personal and troop information requests. 
  • Soldiers and family members must report possible information collection efforts to a CI office or security manager. 
  • Maintain frequent regular contact with FRG leaders and brief them even if the situation has not changed. 
  • Encourage the use of phone tree/information chains inside the FRG so that information can be disseminated quickly to all family members. 
  • Establish strict communication standing operating procedures (SOP) during serious incidents and whenever Soldiers may have been injured or killed to prevent the early release of sensitive information. 
  • Rear detachment units must inform Soldiers and family members of policies in place concerning sensitive information and communication using unsecure channels. 
  • Provide a secure means of communication between Soldiers and family members where sensitive information can be discussed.

Section III: Family Care Teams 

Talking with Grieving Families 

Realize that families who grieve will feel anger as part of that process, and it is important to know what to say in the initial stages of grief. 

In the initial stages, it is best  to leave the comfort of religious and spiritual ministry to the chaplain. The chaplain has a good deal of experience bringing up these issues with individuals who are grieving. Let the chaplain discuss the hard questions of “why” with the family. 

Stages of Grief and Loss 

  • Numbness/shock. The body’s natural defense system insulates individuals in the initial stages of a threatening situation. They may run on “automatic pilot” and later not even remember what happened when they first heard the news of the loss. 
  • Denial. They may experience disbelief: “That is not possible … there must be some mistake … you must have the wrong person, the wrong medical records … that can’t be true … ” 
  • Pain and anguish. As the truth sinks in, as the numbness fades, they may feel deep pain or stomach cramps, feel like they cannot breathe, like their heart is breaking, a raw knot in the center of their being, a sense that they will die, or never be whole again. They may even pass out. 
  • Anger. They may get angry at the messenger who delivers the news, the doctor, the person who caused this pain (even if that person is now deceased), at anyone they hold responsible for their grief. 
  • Bargaining. They may try to negotiate the situation: “Please give me one more chance and I promise things will be better … I will change … If you will reverse this, then I will ___ in return …” 
  • Depression. When they realize the loss is real and unchanging, they may sink into a deep sorrow. They may feel guilt, remorse, or regret. They may feel their life is over. Some may consider or attempt ending their lives. 
  • Acceptance. If they can come to terms with the reality of the situation and gradually let go of the struggle, they can move beyond their suffering and find some peace within themselves, even with their new circumstances. 
  • Hope for the future. Acceptance of the reality of current circumstances can lead to a renewed hope for a future, even though different from the one they used to imagine. 

Children and Grief 

When a family member dies, children react differently than adults. Young children are unable to verbally articulate what they are feeling. They will act out their feelings: 

  • Children 5 and under see death as temporary and reversible, a belief reinforced by cartoon characters that die and come to life again. 
  • Between ages 5 and 9 children begin to think more concretely. They do not have coping skills, yet may understand death as permanent. 
  • Adolescents may experience the same reaction as adults and/or regress to early childhood behaviors. 
  • Teenagers will probably show more of their emotions to their peer group Behavior problems, such as substance abuse and trouble in school, may follow the loss of a loved one. 

The person who has died was essential to the stability of the child’s world. Children should be allowed to express feelings about their loss and grief in their own way. Relatives and friends should stay close and spend as much time as possible with the child.  

Helping Those in Grief 

Reach out to the grieving  Show your interest and share your caring feelings. Be prepared for emotional feelings yourself. A death generates questions and fears about our own mortality. 

Listen. Your greatest gift to a grieving person can be your willingness to listen. Allowing the person to talk about the deceased freely without fear of disapproval helps to create healthy memories. It is an important part of healing. While you cannot resolve the grief, listening can help. 

Ask how you can help. Taking over a simple task at home is not only helpful, it also offers reassurance that you care. Be specific in your offer to do something and then follow up with action. 

When possible, remember holidays and anniversaries. These can be very difficult times for those who are in grief. Do not allow the person to be isolated. Remember to share your home, yourself, or anything that may be of comfort. 

Suggest activities that you can do together. Walking, biking, or other exercises can be an opportunity to talk and a good source of energy for a tired body and mind. 

Help the grieving person find new activities and friends. Include grieving persons in your life. Grieving people may require some encouragement to get back into social situations. Be persistent, but try not to press them to participate before they are ready. 

Pay attention to danger signs. Signs that the grieving person is in distress might include weight loss, substance abuse, depression, prolonged sleep disorders, physical problems, talk about suicide, and lack of personal hygiene. Observing these signs may mean the grieving person needs professional help. If you feel this is the case, a suggestion from you (if you feel close enough to the person) or from a trusted friend or family member may be appropriate. You might also want to point out community resources that may be helpful.

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