Spouses create online tool for Families
Story by: Pamela Redford
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Military spouses are often asked to pack up their homes and move when their Soldier receives permanent change of station orders. For some, relocating from one post to another and settling in to a brand new place can be a source of stress.
But the PCS process to Fort Riley doesn't have to be nerve wracking, thanks to the hard work of last March's class of Resilient Spouse Academy graduates.
During the weeklong class at the Resiliency Learning Center on Custer Hill, attendees discussed the need for spouses to have their own way to get acquainted with Fort Riley. The need may be derived from a persistent problem – a communication break down between Fort Riley and incoming spouses, said Julie Zwiebel, program manager, RSA, Army Family Team Building and Army Family Action Plan, Army Community Service.
Although spouses are welcome to attend weekly in-processing meetings for Soldiers, many of them don't go and sometimes important information doesn't make it home, according to Capt. Brian E. Forshee, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley.
Garrison Commander Col. William Clark visited RSA on graduation day March 9 and asked attendees for feedback on how Fort Riley can do better with training Family members on topics covered in the academy.
The students were ready with their reply that incoming spouses needed a better way to get information. Clark responded favorably to the idea of an informal in-processing just for spouses, Zwiebel said.
Six months and three working group sessions later, Zwiebel, Forshee and five March RSA graduates had worked out a solution to the problem.
Now, with the click of a button, Fort Riley spouses can access all the information their Soldier receives during in-processing – and more.
By visiting www.riley.army.mil and clicking on "Spouses click here" on the left-hand menu bar, visitors can access categorized information on getting settled, employment readiness and education, recreation, deployment readiness, and various links of interest. There's even a kid's corner for the children.
"This is the first time (a suggestion) from the RSA spouses is coming to fruition," Zwiebel said.
To make the transition to a new post easier, working group members planned a link on the Fort Riley website that would bring together topics that Families will immediately need information about when they arrive on post.
"There (are) plenty of programs and services here at Fort Riley, so what the ladies did was consolidate that information and make it more easily accessible," Forshee said. "Three clicks, and they can get right where they want to go."
"The website is something that can be (used) at home and will benefit everybody for sure … This is definitely a great step, I think, in helping Families," Zwiebel said.
And not only is the web tool expected to benefit Soldiers and Families, Forshee and Zwiebel said they expect it will save Fort Riley money and increase efficiencies as well.
Accomplished with no cost but manpower, the new link for spouses should continuously provide access to vital information for newcomers – thereby reducing the number of phone calls to the in-processing center.
"The first thing a spouse is going to do when they find out their (Soldier) is stationed here is Google Fort Riley and go to the homepage and click on spouses. It's going to give them everything they need. So that will cut the phone calls down for sure," Forshee said.
Courtney Davis, one of the military spouses on the working group, said the team spent about 35 hours planning the items under the new link – carefully pouring over each resource category.
"Each category is important to different spouses because each one has a different need.
"So, we were trying to cater to all the different types of spouses that were on post," she said. "I'm hoping it'll just ease their move and ease some of the frustration that comes with moving on post to a new military (installation) … I'm hoping that they can be a little bit more prepared and excited about the move because Fort Riley is a great post."
"My motto has always been knowledge is power, and the more knowledge someone has, the more resilient everyone is. This is right up the RSA line, as far as creating resiliency for our spouses. If we can tap into being resilient before they even get here, we're in good shape," Zwiebel said.
Spouses are welcome to join their Soldier at the Newcomer's Brief and Victory Welcome sessions. These in-processing briefings take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Riley's Conference Center, unless otherwise noted to the Soldier by the 1st Replacement Company.