Army Reserve Family Program Office reaches out to the families of mobilized IRR/IMA/UAU/IA Soldiers

Army Reserve Family Program Office reaches out to the families of mobilized IRR/IMA/UAU/IA Soldiers

Anderia Georgia

It’s 5:30 p.m. and without any prior notice, a telegram is delivered to the door informing you that your country needs you immediately to help fight the Global War on Terrorism. The message further states that you are being called to active duty and expected to report in 30 days. When the shock begins to wear off, questions begin to formulate in your mind. Prioritizing the concerns can be overwhelming. Concerns such as family, current job, finances, and medical plans begin to sink further and further into your mind. You start to wonder where to begin. You wonder how your family’s needs will be met during your military separation. These concerns are real. But help is available!

Recent publicity of the involuntary mobilization of 5,600 Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Soldiers has given the Army Reserve Family Program Office the opportunity to build awareness of a program already in place to assist the families of mobilized Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA), USARC Augmentation Unit (UAU), and Individual Augmentee (IA) Soldiers. On Aug. 1, 2002, the Army Reserve Command formally established the IRR/IMA Family Program Office and assigned it the responsibility of providing information on benefits, entitlements, resources, and referrals to the families of mobilized IRR/IMA Soldiers. Since that time the Army Reserve Family Program Office has taken on the responsibility of assisting the families of the UAU Soldiers. Most recently the Family Program Office began assisting the families of the 5,600 involuntary mobilized IRR Soldiers.

You are not alone if you find yourself asking what an IRR, IMA, UAU, or IA Soldier is and how his or her mission is different from any other Soldier’s mission. The Army Reserve Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Soldier is not associated with a unit nor does the Soldier train with a unit. The IRR Soldier is held in a manpower pool, readily available to be mobilized individually to fill a critical Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in a mobilizing unit, depending on the needs of the Army. The IRR Soldier may have previously served in either the Active Component, Army National Guard, or a position in the Army Reserve and may be fulfilling time remaining in a mandatory Military Service Obligation (MSO). Because the Soldier may mobilize with a unit that is located miles away from the family, there is no connection to a local unit to provide assistance or information.

The Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) may be a part of a Reserve Troop Program Unit (TPU), Active Component Unit, Selective Service System, or a Federal Emergency Management Agency position for training purposes, depending on the Soldier’s Military Occupational Specialty. Although the IMA Soldier may train with a unit they are still mobilized individually to meet the immediate needs of the Army. The IMA Soldier may mobilize with a unit miles away from his/her family. Like the families of the IRR Soldier they too are often left behind without a sense of connection to a local unit for assistance or information.

The U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Augmentation Unit (UAU) and Individual Augmentee (IA) Soldier is the way of the future for the Army Reserve Soldiers. These Reserve Soldiers are used to fill positions that augment or fill shortages in mobilized Reserve Units or Active Army Units. The UAU has implemented a plan that will change the way that IA Soldiers are mobilized in the future. The IA Program consists of a volunteer pool of drilling Reserve Soldiers that are deployable and ready to mobilize when the need arises.

Individual Augmentee Soldiers will be assigned to the UAU once they receive a DA alert or mobilization order.

The commonality among the IRR/IMA and IA Soldiers is that they mobilize individually and not with a unit. Many of the families of IRR/IMA/IA Soldiers have never experienced a long term separation from their loved one, had a need for a Military ID card, or had a need to access information on dependent benefits and services provided by the Family Program Office. During Desert Storm the Army Reserve Command realized that the IRR/IMA families needed better access to information on their benefits and entitlements. After Sept. 11, 2001, it became evident that an available resource for the families was critical to Soldier Readiness. A Soldier must feel comfortable leaving his/her family in order to focus on the military mission.

Specialized assistance and communication is important because of their unique challenges. Mobilization packets are mailed to each Soldier’s home of record. The packets include information on TRICARE, Red Cross, ESGR, the Family Program Office, and other important resources. Most of the IRR/IMA/IA Soldiers do not reside near a Military facility. However, remote locations do not necessarily equal a lack of resources. Many resources are accessible on line or by calling a toll free number. The information provided to the IRR/IMA/UAU/IA families is representative of services available throughout the United States and not just in one local area. What works to meet a family’s needs in Idaho may not be relevant to a family in Georgia. Sorting through the numerous available resources is the job of the specialists who provide the families information and referrals from the IRR/IMA/UAU staff of the Army Reserve Family Program Office located at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Ga. in the United States Army Reserve Command building.

The assistance provided by the IRR/IMA/IA staff of the Army Reserve Family Program Office does not end when requested information is provided. Follow-up and periodic contacts are made with the designated family member on a regular basis. We stay in touch with whomever the Soldier designates. For example single Soldiers may identify a parent or a sibling as our primary point of contact. Our office is available as their point of contact for assistance with information and available resources throughout their Soldier’s mobilization. Additionally, a list of the Regional Readiness Command (RRC) Family Program Directors, Direct Command Family Program Coordinators and Specialists located throughout the United States is provided to identify a link to local assistance if needed. This ongoing assistance helps Army Reserve families maintain morale and a sense of connectivity during difficult times. The information and assistance empowers them with the tools they need to access new resources that can help them during times of separation from their Soldier.

The assistance provided to the families of IRR/IMA/IA Soldiers continues throughout mobilization and when the Soldier is released from active duty (REFRAD) a packet is sent to the families with useful information about homecomings and emotional expectations. An exit survey is also provided. The surveys received from the Soldiers and Families are utilized to improve the overall program and the assistance provided.

Since the program started over, 10,000 mobilization packets have been mailed and over 10,000 contacts by phone, e-mail, and mail have been made to the Families of mobilized IRR/IMA/IA Soldiers. The IRR/IMA/IA staff of the Army Reserve Family Program Office continues to shift gears in preparation for Fiscal Year 2005. The information provided to families is continuously analyzed to ensure that the information provided to the families is relevant and comprehensive. The IRR/IMA/IA staff of the Family Program Office strives to provide the best available customer service to the families of mobilized IRR/IMA/IA Soldiers.

As the Army Reserve Family Program Office looks to the future, every effort to reflect the Expeditionary Force Concept is applied. If an Army Reserve family is close to an Air Force, Navy, Marine, or National Guard military installation and they would like to participate in a Family Readiness Group with other spouses separated from their Soldiers, every effort is made to coordinate a connection to a Family Readiness Group regardless of military affiliation. Additionally, some families have initiated support groups within a region composed of the multi-components in an effort to support each other based on location rather than military affiliation. Each branch of the military has a specific mission. However, the families left behind share commonalities. They all want their Soldiers home safe and all strive to maintain and juggle additional responsibilities as a result of a separation through mobilization.

Accurate contact information is critical to the success of the Family Program Office effort to assist families. Initial communication is most effective when we can reach the family with information on benefits and entitlements prior to the Soldier leaving. Please call the Family Program Office directly at 1-866-345-8248 if you need to provide new address information. The updated information can also be provided on the questionnaire provided in the mobilization packet. The IRR/IMA/IA Army Reserve Family Program Office is staffed to receive phone calls daily from 7:00am EST until 5:00pm EST Monday thru Friday. We are also available on Tuesday and Thursday evenings until 8:00 EST. The IRR/IMA/IA staff of the Army Reserve Family Program Office strives to provide the best available customer service. We welcome your calls and look forward to assisting you. You are our most precious resource and we want to be yours!

Anderia Georgia

Program Manager

Army Reserve IRR/IMA/UAU/IA

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