(Originally posted Feb 26, 2008)
I recently gave Defense of Freedom Medals- the civilian equivalent to the Purple Heart- to Natalie and Jarrod for IED wounds received in Iraq. They, along with our other 800 civilians deployed in OIF/OEF, are courageous and committed to getting ‘er done over there. I stand in awe.
Natalie’s and Jarrod’s injuries put the spotlight on how we take care of wounded Civilian warriors and their Families. We succeeded because of the extraordinary efforts of COL Ray Midkiff and his team in Louisville (and many others), but we also learned we could have had things wired better for our Civilians and their Families-to do them justice.
We’re now fast-tracking our efforts to create a value-adding Family Readiness Program, with standardized procedures for helping with pre-, during-, and post-deployment issues.
In early February, dozens of USACE employees and their family members teamed up to take this on. At the end of their time together, representatives outbriefed a number of needed actions. Using this as a kick start, we made a commitment to begin in earnest to build the USACE Family Readiness Program for our employees – Civilians and Soldiers (Active Duty, Reserve and Guard). This week, we are reconvening and expanding a HQ Family Readiness Project Development Team (PDT) to address the issues raised — to include participation in the Army’s family programs, clarification of casualty management and medical processes, and improvement in the way we deploy our team members and bring them home. One exciting development is that we have a commitment from HQ Department of the Army to provide 10 Army Integrated Family Support Network Specialists to help us in our efforts. Timelines and specific arrangements are working now to make that a reality.
The Corps is absolutely committed to taking care of our people and their families. We are making great progress with this initiative. If you have a passion to help in this area, please contact your leadership and get involved. It takes a “Village”!
Afghanistan, Contingency Operations, Family Readiness, International and Interagency Services, Iraq, Military Programs