No one should have to go through deployments alone. Families during Individual Augmentee (IA) deployments may find that no one around them is having a similar experience. Some may find themselves at Carlisle Barracks, Charlottesville or Ft. Leavenworth, where other military families in the neighborhood are enjoying time together after their own deployments. Others may be in and around Washington DC or other major cities where the pace of life has left you off the radar and out of touch with the JAG Corps community. Still others may serve from the Reserves or National Guard, with family and friends who don’t truly understand the military experience.
As more and more judge advocates deploy as IAs, there have been many of you out there who have expressed a need for an avenue of support and connection to other IA families. The traditional tracking and support of deployed JAG Corps families has been by the SJA office FRG. The soldiers assigned to the office and their families are kept on a roster. This still happens when soldiers deploy in the traditional way– with a unit– but with IA’s it’s different. With no FRG to belong to, it’s hard to track all these families, no matter how hard we try! We’re trying to fill that gap with Standing Strong.
This group was created out of the experiences of several JAG Individual Augmentee spouses, including Melissa Hayden. While we assumed that these deployments would go along as they had in our past unit deployments, what we experienced instead was a lonely year without any support from an FRG or any other group. And we soon discovered that our experience was not unique. Our eyes were opened to a new need as the JAGCorps moves towards more and more IA deployments, leaving families without traditional FRGs or communities of support. By coincidence, both Kathey Garrett and Becca Barnes had taken on supporting IA spouses and families at two different duty stations in two different states. So when we all met up in DC this summer, Standing Strong was born.
We hope and pray it becomes a resource as well as a source of encouragement and support to you and your family.
Staying strong is easier when we stand together!