Family readiness officers discuss challenges
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Family readiness officers, advisors and military spouses attended the annual III Marine Expeditionary Force Family Readiness Command Team Advisor Forum Feb. 25-29 at the Ocean Breeze on Camp Foster.
The forum is an annual function organized by the III MEF family readiness officer to connect spouses of senior officers, senior enlisted and command team advisors, so they can nurture relations with one another, share ideas, and discuss the challenges of overseas military life and the impact it can have on families.
“I think it’s an opportunity to bring everybody together,” said Col. Eric M. Mellinger, the III MEF chief of staff. “(It brings together everyone) from all the supporting commands to share not only some information and training, but also to bring folks together who are interested, focused and dedicated to family readiness and to our families’ health under one roof to exchange experiences, best practices and resources.”
The event further educated the spouses and advisors about the shared history of the U.S. and Okinawa with an emphasis on positive relationships, understanding the U.S. military’s role in the Asia-Pacific region, and why the U.S. military is located on Okinawa.
The event also made note of how families play a key role in supporting the service members along with providing simple ways to take care of themselves, so that they can continue to support their loved ones.
“When you first meet someone, you don’t know what path they’ve been on and what they’ve been through,” said Sue Wissler, participant and wife of Lt. Gen. John Wissler, the III MEF commanding general. “Most of our military families are capable of getting through problems, handling a crisis, even dealing with the death (or injury) of their service member in battle, but most of us can’t do that without some help. That is the role of the people in this room. It’s to provide support for our families.”
For many married Marines, their families are the cornerstone on which they lean against during times of trouble throughout their military career, according to Mellinger.
“I have been in the Marine Corps for 27 years,” said Mellinger. “My family has endured deployments and separation. They are the rock I rest upon when I’m not at work, and the support I get from them allows me to do the job that I do. It provides me the resilience to get through some challenging hours and experiences we have (in the military).”
A unique aspect for military service members is that family means more than just their spouses and relatives, according to Amy J. Hall, an advisor for 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. For service members, family is also their brother and sisters in uniform who provide encouragement and support in times of need.
“It’s a lifesaver to have support from my Marine Corps family,” said Hall “Whether it’s an encouraging word or somebody bringing you a meal when you’re sick or your child is injured. I would never change it; it’s wonderful, but hard.”