69th ADA readiness

Cleopatra Stanonik, a family readiness support assistant in the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, addresses the family readiness group leaders and volunteers within the Lightning Brigade on Feb. 20 at the Oveta Culp Center.

U.S. Army/Sgt. Maria Kappell

The 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade family readiness support assistants and family readiness group leaders gathered to discuss the family readiness program and its roles within the brigade at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center on Feb. 20.

This forum gave the FRG leaders from batteries across the organization a chance to meet and become familiar with each other. It also gave the FRG team an opportunity to collaborate as a cohesive group and address things that need improvement and things that are going well with the program.

The event began with an introduction of the people attending and went on to discuss how the family readiness program is organized within the brigade, effective ways to communicate with the soldiers and families in the brigade, and how to get involved within the surrounding community.

The Lightning Brigade has more than 50 soldiers deployed to Southwest Asia from the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, who are in command and control of several Patriot batteries within the region. The brigade also is preparing two of its battalions to deploy within the upcoming year. Because of the unit’s cyclic deployment rotations, the family readiness program is an imperative tool that needs to be used in the brigade to keep the families informed and resilient.

“At all times we stand ready, and we stand prepared,” said Cleopatra Stanonik, the brigade’s family readiness support assistant.

A part of mission success is making sure the soldiers, as well as the families, are prepared for deployment at all times, said Amber Barrera, another family readiness support assistant within the brigade. The readiness of the families is imperative to a healthy, strong unit, she added.

The FRGs within the brigade offer timely and accurate information to family members who wish to receive it. The program is also a support system and a means of connection to the unit while a loved one’s soldier is away during deployment. Families also can find camaraderie in this group through its social and volunteer events, whether their soldiers are deployed or stateside.

“There is never going to be a time when you need us and one of us won’t be available for you,” Stanonik said.

One of the focuses of the brigade’s family readiness team is to make sure the young soldiers are involved and have a way to keep their families linked to the unit, especially if that soldier is away from home for the first time and feeling homesick, Stanonik said.

“The FRG is really about trying to get a common bond between the units and the families at home,” said Capt. Tom Wharton, the commander of the brigade’s Service Company, 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

Some ways the brigade tries to create that common bond between it and its families are through phone calls to the families, community service and volunteer events, and ensuring families have proper contact information for their respective units.

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