Spec. Chris McCann
2nd Brigade Combat Team Journalist
As 2nd Brigade Combat Team prepares to deploy, many changes will occur.
Family readiness groups will make extra efforts to keep everyone aware of changes, celebrations will take place, and many unit buildings will close.
One change will occur at 2nd Brigade Support Troops Battalion Dining Facility, which will close June 30. The 2nd Brigade dining facility will transition to a civilian workforce, freeing Soldiers who work there to go on block leave before the deployment to Iraq, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shawn Lashbrook.
Soldiers and civilians prepared a festive meal in celebration Friday at 2nd BCT DFAC, with two huge steamship rounds slow roasted all night and sliced fresh to order. Lobster tails and crab legs also were on the menu, as well as baked potatoes, fresh fruit, fresh pastries and other delectables.
Soldiers and families alike came to the DFAC to enjoy lunch and to meet with representatives from the virtual FRG system as well as FRG members selling deployment and brigade-related items.
Amy Berard sells “Remember Me” dolls – person-shaped pillows with a deployed Soldier’s photo on them. She custom-makes the dolls from photos, allowing anyone, especially children of deployed Soldiers, to hug “mommy” or “daddy” anytime.
Several of the FRGs had unit T-shirts, and one table held a stack of cotton throws with battalion logos of 2nd BCT.
Child and Youth Services had representatives on site to tell parents about child care options on post, and Army Family Team Building and National Military Family Association representatives were available to speak with those who will be left behind when the brigade deploys.
Carrie Tate-Meyer, 2nd FRG assistant, was on hand to help Soldiers and family members.
“This is the kickoff to let family members know that we’re gearing up for deployment,” Tate-Meyer said. “Also, this is the opportunity for the DFAC to host Soldiers and family members to come out and eat.”
Col. Michael Kershaw, 2nd BCT commander, also took time to speak with Soldiers and family members, explaining that while Soldiers get a lot of information at work, it’s sometimes tougher for family members to get the whole story.
“What you see here today is extending that information to everybody,” Kershaw said. “It’s a time for families to get out and spend some time with friends.”
Kershaw also touched on the fact that while FRGs are often thought of as primarily a way for couples to stay in touch, they’re not the only ones who can use the groups.
“The Army has set up a system so Soldiers can communicate,” he said, noting that in addition to FRG-run programs like videoconferencing, telephone and Internet access are available in theater for Soldiers to keep in touch with their parents and other family members, no matter where they are.
Tate-Meyer also mentioned the communication opportunities, which are often routed through the virtual FRG.
“Whenever the Soldier or family member is interested in finding information, it’s just a mouse-click away,” she said, noting the virtual FRG provides, for example, mailing addresses, and Operation READY and unit information.
“I’m very excited; it’s an opportunity to reach out to those extended family members who are looking for information about their Soldier and what they’re doing,” she said.
Capt. Chip Potter, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT commander, ate lunch with his wife Tanya at the DFAC, and commented on the importance of group gatherings like this event.
“It’s to integrate the families before we deploy, allow them to spend a little more time with us and see some of the tools and props that can tie them into the FRG.”
“It’s absolutely critical (that spouses communicate),” he said. “If spouses don’t stick together, they have no support channel, no one to turn to, they’re isolated.”
Isolation certainly wasn’t the order of the day; many Soldiers had family members present to enjoy the food and camaraderie.
The 2nd BCT is scheduled to deploy in late summer.