Want to know the BEST way to keep me from attending an FRG meeting? Make it 'mandatory'. I don't respond well to orders. I'm not in the Army. If you're going to make it 'mandatory', you might as well not hold the meeting at all.
As an FRG leader (or a commander, for that matter) I'd like to think I'd be able to come up with a way to encourage attendance at a meeting such as this without resorting to threats and brow-beating. Apparently that is not possible. So we have a 'mandatory' FRG meeting to discuss the upcoming training exercise.
Not deployment. Training exercise. *sigh*
Prior to a deployment, soldiers go through a process called "SRP" (soldier readiness packet). It's a process that ensures that the soldier has the appropriate paperwork in hand and has taken care of the necessary tasks prior to deploying; things like powers of attorney, wills, banking arrangements, shots, dental checkups, etc. And prior to a deployment, this made sense.
Only now, soldiers go through the SRP process before they leave on training exercises. Good grief. What in the world have we become? How ridiculously incompetent must soldiers and their families appear to have necessitated this requirement? While part of the blame lies in the leadership for a knee-jerk reaction to a few isolated incidents of oversight in terms of preparation for a training exercise, the other part of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the soldiers and their families. Because the decision to require SRP prior to leaving for a training exercise didn't come about for no reason. Someone, somewhere, wasn't squared away enough and a problem arose that wasn't properly dealt with at the lowest levels of leadership. And someone complained to the higher-ups who decided to kill a gnat with a sledgehammer. And now we have SRPs for training exercises and 'mandatory' FRG meetings for the same.
How sad is it that our soldiers cannot leave home for a few weeks without preventable catastrophes happening that necessitate policies such as this? How hard is it to make sure that you (or your spouse...depending on what angle you're looking at this from) have access to the bank accounts? That the cars are adequately registered? That the LES is squared away? That you both have up to date wills? How hard is that? It's not that hard - I've done it. I did it as a junior enlisted spouse, an NCO's spouse, and as a warrant officer's spouse. I've done it with and without children. I've done it with babies and toddlers (at the same time). It's not that hard.
And yet, here we are - SRPs for training exercises and 'mandatory' FRG meetings.
We have no clue how to take care of ourselves anymore. Ridiculous.