CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – --
A family readiness officer is a valued asset to the Marines and families who fall under their care. They contribute time, energy and resources to maintain family readiness within the Marine Corps.
The FRO is the link between the command, the unit and the families. Their mission is to keep the units and families under their watch informed and up-to-date on family readiness. The FRO is all about communication. Without that vital function, families may end up feeling segregated from the unit.
“A family readiness officer is a multi-functional position,” said Staff Sgt. Julianna Pinder, the FRO for Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installation Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan. “We are here for the units and their families. We host events for the Marines, schedule classes to help spouses transition into military life and act as a reference to the resources they may need.”
Depending on where a Marine is located, their families may struggle to stay in contact. They may feel fear and anxiety but a FRO receives updates from units and relays that information to families to help ease that worry.
“My son is a Marine and currently deployed,” said Denise Fettig-Loftesnes, a civilian FRO with III Marine Expeditionary Force. “I can sleep at night because his FRO has connected me, with my son’s permission, to his unit with regular communication.”
Keeping loved ones connected falls into the Unit, Personal, and Family Readiness Program, which the FRO manages. This program was designed to enable units to empower Marines and family members by providing opportunities for them to thrive while taking on the challenges of the military lifestyle. FROs do this by hosting events, keeping loved ones updated about their units and advising them on the different programs available.
“A FRO can refer a Marine to resources to ‘fix or make better’ what is taking away their focus from the mission at hand,” said Fettig-Loftesnes. “We are here for all Marines and their families.”
The FRO organizes a multitude of training opportunities, ranging from pre-deployment briefs to interpersonal communication and transition assistance. Each opportunity is designed to help Marines and families with skills development and independence.
FROs go through their own training before they are qualified to handle such an essential position. They have to attend advisor or assistance training and command team training. They also attend a lifestyle insights, networking, knowledge and skills class, commonly known as L.I.N.K.S., so that they may have an understanding of what Marines and their families may need.
All of these classes help the FRO have a deeper understanding of what the Marine Corps expects from their Marines, what the families need and how to manage their mentorship with the units they are given.
“The most enjoyable thing about being a FRO is knowing that you can and do make a difference,” said Fettig-Loftesnes. “Interacting with the Marines and their family members is truly a wonderful part of being a FRO.”