Across the United States, Reserve family readiness programs work to help National Guard and Reserve members and their families overcome hardship and adversity. Sometimes these challenges arise from deployment, and other times they come from unexpected places.
After losing his job and flunking out of school, a financially stressed San Jose Reservist sunk deep into depression. Fearing for her husband, his wife reached out to the service member’s command. Staff from Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) San Jose jumped into action to get them through their post-deployment crisis.
“When we find a family in crisis we’ve responded in different ways, relying on our resources and really giving it that personal touch,” said Commander Amy Hunt of NOSC San Jose. “I don’t think we look at [family readiness] programmatically. It’s just really about caring for our service members.”
The NOSC provided mental health services and brought the Reservist on orders to generate immediate income for his family. They also invited him to assist with planning a public health project that serves veterans struggling with service- and combat-related issues. Soon the service member was able to find a new job, and his involvement with the project helped him emerge from isolation and find new hope.
“They gave me back my husband,” said his wife.
And stories like this are not uncommon.
Take the story of a volunteer at Marine Air Control Guard 48 (MACG-48), 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, who helped to combat feelings of isolation experienced by the unit’s large Hispanic population.
Maria del Carmen Guererra translated both the Headquarters Marine Corps Community Service Pre-Deployment Handbook and the Return and Reunion Homecoming Handbook for Parents and Extended Family into Spanish in order to provide a beneficial tool that assisted family members with language barriers. These handbooks ensured family members were familiar with common readiness terminology, and provided a resource to which they could later refer.
Sgt. Maj. Shawn Michael Isaacson explained that when del Carmen Guererra recognized a need for bilingual language packets within the unit, she devoted her own time and talents to translate them so that every family in the unit would be able access the information.
These examples represent the kind of readiness and response that has come to exemplify the very best in Reserve family readiness programs, and why the Department of Defense has taken to recognizing those units that go above and beyond in their support of Service members and their families.
Both NOSC San Jose and MACG-48 received the 2016 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award in a ceremony at the Pentagon Friday morning.
“One of the reasons we’re able to rely on our Reserve members is because of the great readiness programs at home,” said Matthew Dubois, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Integration, during the ceremony. Dubois also noted how the nation’s Guard and Reserve members have been critical in supporting operations worldwide in the wake of the events on September 11, 2001. Since that date, nearly 1,000,000 Reservists have been deployed, making the task of readying Reservists and their families for mobilization all the more critical.
Established in 2000, this award recognizes National Guard and Reserve units, one from each of the seven Reserve Components, who demonstrate outstanding programs supporting their military families. Representatives from each of the winning units were in attendance and received a commemorative plaque and framed certificate from Dubois.
Each unit also received a certificate of recognition and award from the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). With more than 370,000 members from every branch of service – including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired, former officers, and their families – MOAA is a powerful force speaking for a strong national defense and representing the interests of military officers at every stage in their careers. This is the 12th year MOAA has presented units with a monetary award intended to enhance family support programs.