Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAMILY READINESS GROUPS SERVICE MEMBER CIVIL RELIEF
FRG FUNDRAISING SERVICE MEMBER PAY
COMMUNICATIONS LEGAL MATTERS
EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS DEERS ENROLLMENT
YOUTH  


FAMILY READINESS GROUPS (FRG)

What is the difference between FAC and FRG?
The FAC is the Family Assistance Center. There are seven coordinators who each run a regional Center. These FAC’s were established by the Family Program Office specifically to assist families of deployed Guard members. They serve as the point of contact for help with any type of problem families may have. They are trained staff available to help you solve your problems or direct you to the appropriate program or agency. FRG is a Family Readiness Group. These groups are led by volunteers who are most often family members or community members of a local unit. FRG’s provide a necessary form of mutual support among families. They also provide communication between the unit and the families and are an excellent source of information for all family and Guard members. The FRG leaders work with the FAC coordinators to facilitate the support of Guard families and to promote communication and coordination within the Chain of Command and the Chain of Concern.

Who is my chain of concern? Chain of command (concern vs. command)
Your Chain of Command consists of Guard personnel including the Battalion/ Squad Commander, Unit Commander & Officers, Rear Detachment Officer and Family Assistance Center Coordinator. Some reasons you may need to utilize the Chain of Command are to report information from or to a deployed soldier or to update roster information. Keep in mind that the Rear Detachment Officer is your 1st point of contact for the Commander during a deployment.

Your Chain of Concern is comprised of volunteers such as spouses, family members, community members, or retired Guard personnel. These volunteers will assist the Chain of Command in supporting the FRG membership and achieving unit readiness goals.

Who can be a “member” of an FRG group?
A Family Readiness Group includes all members of a unit and their families. This includes but is not limited to spouses, parents, significant others, children, friends, retirees and relatives. Participation is voluntary.


How often should our FRG put out a newsletter?
(deployed vs. non deployed status)

Newsletters have long been the most effective means of communication for FRG’s and have usually been mailed monthly or quarterly, depending on the amount of information that needs to be passed on to the families. If your unit is deployed you will most likely need to be produced monthly. If your unit is not deployed, there may not be as much “news” to pass along and therefore you may only need to send it out quarterly. Your group can decide the frequency so that you can meet the needs of your families. You may also contact your Family Assistance Center Coordinator for more guidelines and ideas for your FRG newsletter.


I have not been contacted by my husband’s unit FRG since he has been deployed,
how come?

Before, deployment each soldier goes through an SRP. At the SRP the soldier fills out a “Soldier Data Sheet” and other than spouse lists a primary Point of Contact (POC). The Primary POC will be the one who is contacted by the FRG and FAC. This individual would be responsible for passing any information on to the other family members or friends. Sometimes changes happen in between the time a soldier goes through the SRP and when they deploy (i.e. marriage, birth) and someone may not be listed as a POC on the data sheet. If there is an error or oversight it is the soldier’s responsibility to inform the Family Program Office of any changes. Please remember that information is only given to the Primary POC to ensure the safety and security of the soldier and the unit.

I hear of other FRGs hosting wonderful events,
how come my unit’s FRG does not have these?

Each unit, situation and group of people are unique. There is no “cookie cutter” FRG. The needs and direction of the FRG is unique to each group. What works for one doesn't’t necessarily work for the next. If you hear of a group having an event that interests you, talk to the FRG Chairperson to find out about hosting that event for your own group. Poll your group and find out if there is interest and then get volunteers to help host the event. Some factors that may affect the success of an event are: interest, location of families, and participation.


FRG FUNDRAISING

What are the absolute no-no’s in fundraising?
DO NOT exceed $1000.00 at any one time in the informal fund account. DO NOT represent yourself as part of a military or government organization when fundraising. DO NOT ask for monetary donations. When in doubt, ask you Family Assistance Coordinator or the State Family Program Office.

Can FRGs accept donations?
Yes, an FRG can accept donations or gifts provided that the gift is unconditional, or with “no strings attached.” Monetary donations must be unsolicited. FRG’s can only solicit for “product”. Keep in mind that at the end of the year your account balance can not exceed $1000. If you currently have or expect at some time to have more than $1000 this money must be used for events and activities within the year.

Are FRGs private or non-profit organizations?
NEITHER! FRGs should not seek to become a private or non-profit organization in order to avoid the $1000 limit. A private or non-profit organization and an FRG are not one and the same because an approved FRG can not be a private organization. An FRG operates under the guidance and direction of the Army and Air Force and is authorized support from them. Private or non-profit organizations can not receive a great deal of support from the military.

What fund raisers work best for an FRG and what fund raisers do not work?
It is difficult to say which fund raisers will work and which ones will not because every FRG is different. Your FRG can be whatever you would like it to be based on the needs of your families and the desired events and activities you would like to sponsor. You will find that your own community contacts will present fundraising opportunities that are not necessarily available to other groups. If you are looking for some jumping off points you may contact your Family Assistance Coordinator or any other FRG leaders you may have networked with.


SERVICE MEMBER PAY

What is myPay?
MyPay is a great new tool to help members of America’s military, Defense civilians, retirees and annuitants manage their pay. This self-service tool, lets people make changes to their pay account information online, view and print leave and earnings statements, view and print tax statements and make updates to their bank account and electronic fund information from anywhere at anytime at http://mypay.dfas.mil

My husband’s LES is incorrect. He is not getting the appropriate allowances,
who can help me fix this?

You can always contact the Family Assistance Center to help solve the problem. The FAC Coordinator can get in touch with Finance to make sure the problem is corrected or get an answer as to why the problem is occurring. There are various allowances based on station.



COMMUNICATIONS

Is it okay for an FRG to use email as the only source of communication between the families?
No. It is not okay to utilize email as the only source. Email, while very convenient and often times the fastest and easiest way to relay information, is sometimes unreliable. The telephone tree is used to relay information to unit families regarding delays in unit returns, emergencies, situations related to Federal or State mobilizations and serves as “rumor control.” As you pass on this information to the families it is important to make sure that they have received it. You never know if there is a technical problem on the other end of your email or even if a family member has checked their email recently. The information is usually too important to rely on email. It is always best to make “live” contact with the family via a telephone call.

In the event of an emergency, how do I reach my soldier?
The best and quickest way to reach you soldier when there is an emergency that
he/she needs to be informed of is through the Red Cross. They have an existing system for this particular family need and will follow through to make sure that you communicate with your soldier. For all Massachusetts Military Emergency Calls you may contact the Red Cross by calling 1-888-737-4306 ext# 909 or ext# 910


YOUTH


What do we do with children during meetings?
The members of your FRG have many options open to them. It depends on where you hold your meetings, what time of day, how many children, how old are the children, etc. We encourage you to make children a priority because they will most likely be facing their own issues due to a deployment or separation. You may even start your own youth committee which can arrange for special activities or events for children during your FRG meetings. For assistance in planning events or activities you may contact the Youth Program Coordinator or refer to the resources available to you such as the Youth Activity Guide.


LEGAL MATTERS

My husband is deployed and I am trying to refinance our home, but the bank is telling me that my General Power Of Attorney (GPOA) is not enough, that I need a Special POA (SPOA). What are they talking about?
Although a GPOA includes banking, many banks are reluctant to accept a GPOA. It is better to have a SPOA with the bank account number(s) annotated on it or any other information regarding the refinance. Also you should call the bank and confirm that the SPOA will be accepted. Some banks may have their own form that they want you to use. If you are having difficulty with a situation like this you may contact you local Family Assistance Center in order to referred and assist you adequately in these matters even if your soldier is already deployed.

When can Legal Assistance be available?
All military services have legal assistance officers available to assist families with legal problems during periods of active duty. Generally, the military services offer limited legal assistance to Guard and Reserve members during inactive duty training periods to prepare legal documents such as wills and powers of attorney needed in the event of an involuntary call to active duty. For Further information, contact your regional Family Assistance Center.


SERVICE MEMBER CIVIL RELIEF ACT (SCRA)

When does the SCRA protect me?
Most SCRA protection begins the day you receive your orders to active duty. As a practical matter, you should be ready, and expect to present a copy of those orders to whomever you ask for some right or benefit under the Act.

A person experiencing problems with civilian employment or reemployment may contact the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NCESGR) for assistance. Their toll free number is 1-800-336-4590.

I have heard about lowering my interest rates to 6% on loans. How do I do this?
A. You may be entitled to have the interest rate on some of your loans reduced to 6% for the time you are on active duty. There are a number of special requirements. You need to talk to a Legal Assistance Attorney to ensure you are eligible. You may be eligible if you and your loan meet the following conditions:
• You took out the loan during a time when you were not on any form of active duty in any branch of the military.
• The interest rate is currently above 6% per year.
• Your military service affects your ability to pay the loan at the regular (pre-service) interest rate. Generally this requirement means that you make less money in the military than you made as a civilian. There are some special legal issues here - you should be ready to talk to your Legal Assistance Attorney about your entire financial situation.
• You notified the lender in writing with a copy of your orders.

What about the lease on my apartment?
I live alone and I will not be there. I want to let my apartment go and put my furniture in storage. Can I get out of my lease? Generally - yes. If you have a lease for a house, apartment, or even a business location, you may be able to get out of the lease when you come on active duty. Here are the requirements:
• You originally signed your lease when you were not on any form of active duty.
• You have received your orders to active duty.
• You gave written notice to your landlord that you want to terminate your lease and a copy of your orders. You will still have to pay rent for a short while. Your landlord can charge you rent for 30 days after the date your next rent is due, after the date you give your written notice. Example: You give notice on 15 December. Your next rent is normally due 1 January. The landlord can make you pay rent until 31 January. The key is to get the written notice in the landlord's hands just as soon as possible.

I have to go to court on a lawsuit that came up over an auto accident last year. Can I get the lawsuit delayed?
If you are a party (one of the people suing or being sued) in a civil case (not a criminal case), the court must grant you an initial delay of 90 days upon your request explaining how your military duties materially effect your ability to appear, your date of availability, and a letter from your commander. Generally, your commander will have to show that military duty is keeping you from going to court. This is a tricky legal area - I recommend you have your civilian lawyer contact a Military Legal Assistance Attorney to discuss the best way to proceed in your case.

I am self-employed and I have health coverage that is pretty expensive. Can I stop my health coverage?
What will happen when I get off of active duty and I try to start it again - will I still be covered? As long as you are on active duty, your health care needs are covered by the Military's medical facilities. In addition, your family members will become eligible for coverage. You may want to suspend your civilian coverage. If you do this, the SCRA will require your civilian insurance company to reinstate your coverage when you get off of active duty. They have to write you a policy. They cannot refuse to cover most "pre-existing conditions".

Will I have to pay state income taxes on my pay while I am on active duty?
If your home state taxes military pay, you will have to pay those taxes. If you get assigned to another state, you will still legally be a "domiciliary" of your home state. The state to which the military assigns you cannot tax your military pay. If you moonlight, they can tax that pay - just your military pay is exempt.



EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

What is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)?
Reemployment rights with a civilian employer are protected under chapter 43 of title 38, United States Code. This law, better known as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or USERRA, provides a broad range of civilian job protections.
USERRA provides protection to anyone absent from a position of civilian employment because of uniformed service if:
1) Advance written or verbal notice was given to the civilian employer;
2) The cumulative length of absence(s) does not exceed 5 years; and
3) The person’s character of service was not adverse.


DEERS ENROLLMENT

Why do I need to have an updated Military ID card?
ID cards are used to obtain exchange, commissary and certain morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) privileges. These cards will authorize appropriate medical, commissary, exchange and MWR benefits and privileges for the period of active duty specified on the members’ orders. Family members and eligible dependents are required to report to an ID Card facility in order to be issued the appropriate ID Card. Ask your command or unit Regional Family Assistance Center for a list of ID Card facilities in your area.

We are going to be moving, who should I update with my new information?
The most important place to update your information is DEERS. If your soldier is deployed and unable to update this information for you, you may need the help of your Family Assistance Center. It is also a good idea to update this information with the Family Program Office, the Family Assistance Center and the Family Readiness Group. This way you will be sure to receive any pertinent information regarding the unit or family events and activities.

 

 

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