Ensuring Peace of Mind and Mission Readiness
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Litzenberger
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Sailor’s life aboard ship can be demanding, especially when underway. The days are long and the work is challenging. Being a part of the pre-commissioning crew of an aircraft carrier, the first of its class, poses its own challenges as well.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 11, 2016) — Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), into the James River during the ship’s Turn Ship evolution. This is a major milestone that brings the country’s newest aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)
Shipboard testing, crew certifications, sea trials and other evolutions only become more stressful when Sailors are also worrying about their families at home. That’s where Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) Family Readiness Group (FRG) comes into play.
An FRG is a command-sponsored organization made up of spouses, parents, siblings, relatives, and approved friends of military personnel whose goals are to offer family members a line of support to help cope with separation during deployments as well as other challenges that military life may present to families.
“When Sailors know they have an extended family who understands Navy life, it can be a huge relief for the families and reduce stressors that come from deployments,” said Suzanne Fairman, vice president of Ford’s FRG.
“I think of the FRG as an extension of the brotherhood of the military,” said Laura Bitzer, secretary of Ford’s FRG. “We provide a network of support and shared experiences and can help each other out during rough times.”
“We provide events for the families so that they can get to know one another in a fun and safe atmosphere,” said Pamela Hughens, president of Ford’s FRG. “Our role becomes even more important when the ship is deployed because we can provide a welcoming distraction with meet and greets, play dates and other events to keep our families connected and having fun so time passes more quickly.”
It also helps give the service members peace of mind that their families are being taken care of while they are away.
“It benefits Sailors by alleviating one of their ever-present worries—concern for their families,” said Bitzer. “If a Sailor can be confident in the safety and (relative) happiness of their family, then they will be able to more effectively focus on operations and the command mission.”
NEWPORT NEWS, Va., (Nov. 9, 2013) – Service members, crew, their families and distinguished guests bow their heads as Navy Capt. Jerome Hinson gives a benediction during the ship’s christening ceremony. The Ford-class brings improved war fighting capacity, quality of life improvements and reduced acquisition and life cycle costs. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco/RELEASED)
Joining Ford’s FRG will present great opportunities to establish a support network with other families of Ford Sailors and socialize with different people from various backgrounds says Fairman.
“To join is as simple as sending an email of interest so that we can establish contact information in order to share what we will be planning for future events,” said Fairman.
“We’ve had a slow start so far, with lots of unexpected challenges in getting everything together, but we have tons of great ideas for getting everyone involved and participating,” said Bitzer. “Anyone who is interested and would like to join us, please find us on Facebook! We would love to meet you and start building our extended Ford family!”
For more information or to join Ford’s Family Readiness Group, please contact Ford’s ombudsman or find the FRG on Facebook.