So what is the Quality of Life and Family Readiness Conference? Good question. The reason you haven’t heard of it before is because last week it did not exist.
Families who traveled from all over the world to spend time with their soldiers were now asked to participate in hours of briefings on a selection of military programs. Some of the families have expressed disappointment, especially yesterday when the soldiers went to Arlington National Cemetery while family members learned about Military One Source.
Megan Madsen, one of the participating family members, when presented with the opportunity expressed her feelings to Lt. Gen. Stultz. During the question and answer portion of Stultz’s visit, she said, “I feel like I’m really missing the experience that my husband is having right now” (the full statement was more involved, but that is all I could make out from my little voice recorder.).
Stultz did his best to explain the situation. “No excuse” he began. “We messed up; not intentionally. Two years ago, 2008 we celebrated our 100th anniversary of the Army Reserve. We had a big, major ceremony in front of the capitol, reenlisted 100 soldiers from the Army Reserve. And they said bring their families, get everybody down here.” A similar ceremony occurred in 2009, the same was expected for this week.
Friday afternoon (16 April 2010) Lt. Gen. Stultz learned that the Army Reserve was not allowed to pay for family members to travel to D.C. for their soldiers’ reenlistment ceremony. This of course came as quite a surprise since that is how it has been done the last 2 years, and arrangements had already been made. Faced with the proposition of telling the family members their trip would not be paid for, “I went back to my staff, I said ‘this is wrong, soldiers ought to be able to bring their families… What is it going to take for us to be able to bring the families here?’”. What it took was a separate event focused on family readiness.
Mrs. Madsen appreciated Lt. Gen. Stultz’s candor. Most of the families I spoke with found the information in the briefings to be useful. Next time I’m sure we’ll be better prepared.