By Katie L. Glover, USAG Bavaria Army Community Service
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — For spouses, volunteering in a military unit is a powerful tool for personal empowerment, networking, becoming part of the community and building interpersonal relationships within families.
Soldier and Family Readiness Groups support the commander in ensuring family members are offered sponsors when coming to Germany, and receive calendars, information and updates about the unit. Additionally, many SFRGs have fundraisers and social events to build espirit de corps.
“At the end of the day, all we really have is each other,” Col. Thomas M. Hough, commander of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, said at a recent volunteer recognition ceremony. “It’s those volunteers that make our lives a little better.”
SFRG volunteers have lasting effects on the organization and the community, especially if they choose to volunteer as a sponsor for an incoming spouse.
“When you come here, there is a language barrier, so it’s hard to get things done off post, so on post the FRG is there to give you information,” said Wendy Snow Wright, senior advisor of the 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment SFRG. “The ability to have somebody that has been here longer, and has already gone through all of the steps, to have that person be able to tell you ‘hey, this works, that doesn’t work,’ is very helpful.”
Beyond what volunteers can bring to the unit, being a part of the SFRG can have intrinsic motivators, and increase personal resiliency for its members. Volunteers within the unit are more aware of the unit’s activities, can increase social networks and have greater knowledge of the events going on within the garrison.
“The SFRG offers members the chance to be part of the community,” said Sharon Stewart, program manager for Mobilization and Deployment Readiness at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria’s Army Community Service. “It helps build that line of communication for the unit.”
Spouses that are new to Tower Barracks and Rose Barracks can learn more about volunteering at the upcoming Career and Volunteer Fair taking place Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Tower View Conference Center.
The Career and Volunteer Fair features over 40 booths of local organizations that are hiring, offering volunteer opportunities that enhance job skills, providing training and education opportunities, or offering support services to spouses looking for jobs.
“Fortunately, there are volunteer opportunities in our community that can be utilized to maintain skills, experience and even professional certifications,” said Bethany Stephens, the soldier and family readiness support assistant at the 18th Military Police Brigade. “The Career and Volunteer Fair is your one-stop shop for connecting with those resources.”
USAG Bavaria’s Army Community Service provides family advocacy, volunteer, relocation, deployment, employment and financial support services to Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and families through their offices in Rose Barracks, Tower Barracks, Hohenfels and Garmisch. Learn more at grafenwoehr.armymwr.com.
Editor’s note: This is the third in a six-part series about tools and resources available to promote empowerment and resiliency among spouses in USAG Bavaria. The other articles are available here.