Boxer Families prepare For Deployment With Family Readiness Group
by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Fletcher Gibson
USS Boxer’s Family Readiness Group had their first meeting in nearly a year Wednesday at Naval Base San Diego to set the groundwork for the social group which supports the friends and family members of Boxer’s Sailors.
“We’re purely a social and supportive organization for all the families when the ship is deployed,” explained Pam Salgado, the FRG’s president.
Nearly 25 spouses, children and friends, along with their Sailors, attended the meeting, met the group’s officers, and shared experiences of what they’d like to see out of the group during the ship’s next deployment.
A number of special guests were also there for this meeting, including the command ombudsmen, the ship’s chaplains, command master chief, and commanding and executive officers. The CO, Capt. Frank J. Michael, provided the opening remarks to the meeting, explaining to the gathered families why the FRG was important to him. “You know I’m all about three things,” he said to the group, “mission, safety and, of course, family.”
He was also able to give some insights into the ship’s upcoming deployment and preparation schedules to allow the attending family members to be better prepared. The majority of the meeting, however, was dedicated to discussing past FRG activities and planning for future ones. Although a deployment is still several months away, the group agreed to continue meeting quarterly to keep in touch and allowing for more social interaction even before the ship gets underway. Dinners out, play groups for the children, and pot luck lunches were all discussed as things they’re planning to keep everyone entertained. When Boxer does goes to sea, the frequency of these get-togethers will go up.
“When the ship is underway we’ll have monthly dinners and monthly meetings,” Salgado said. Of the 25 families at the meeting, nearly half of them were new to the ship and will be facing their first deployment. The importance of the FRG as a support group is even greater for these families as it allows them to draw on the experiences of the more experienced members who have been through deployments before.
“Just the support of having some of the other wives, talking to them and sharing ideas, it’s very helpful,” said Norma, one of the attending wives who, with her senior chief husband, had been through a few deployments. “If they embrace it and use all the resources the ship provides, the deployment will be easier.”
Although no specific date for the next gathering was set, the decision to meet at least quarterly gives a few more opportunities for new members to join the group before Boxer and its Sailors deploy. The group is all-inclusive, welcoming not just husbands and wives but extended family members or even unrelated friends. Anyone interested in forming a network with others who will be separated from their Sailor during deployment should speak to his or her Sailor or ombudsmen for information on the next group get-together.