Thursday, August 27, 2009

Autumn in the Army

I absolutely love Autumn. It's my favorite season ... even in Texas where there is no dazzling display of leaves changing color. I love the cooler air after months of oppressive heat and humidity, the crisp smell of outdoor barbeques, the enthusiastic sounds of football teams and cheering crowds, and the many delicious flavors of Fall … pumpkin spice lattes topping the list. We decorate for Halloween, carve (or paint!) pumpkins, adore Trick-or-Treating, and enjoy a season of thanksgiving with family and friends. What’s not to love?

This Fall, I was happy to participate in a brand-new event for me. Because my husband will be taking a battalion command in the Spring, he is currently going through a series of courses to prepare him for this adventure. One part of the training includes spouses and I was able to spend an entire week with my husband at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, attending classes and getting to know others preparing for command. I was excited for a million reasons … a week with my husband, no kids, meeting new friends, and revisiting a favorite installation were but a few.

After lots of preparation (planning for two school-age boys and two sets of grandparents traveling to help out is no easy feat!), my husband and I flew to Kansas, back to place we loved being just a few short years ago. We enjoyed dinner at a favorite restaurant and reminisced on the drive to post. It felt a little like summer camp as we checked into Hoge Barracks and prepared for our week.

The week flew by but was a wonderful time of meeting great people, talking about supporting our amazing Soldiers and Families, and listening to some of the Army’s top leaders give us the latest in Army progress and guidance for the time in command. I loved hearing about initiatives designed to help our Soldiers like the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program, Strong Bonds retreats, and Army Safety. I also heard a lot about the importance of Families, including promises like the Army Family Covenant, programs like the Family Readiness Support Assistants (FRSAs), and tools like the virtual Family Readiness Group (vFRG). I took a ton of notes and came home with a binder full of information to review and digest before our day comes.

I had never thought about how battalion commanders prepared for their jobs before. I’m still learning about this process, but I’m happy to report that there is a great deal of importance placed on preparation and your commanders were selected and trained to be leaders of Soldiers and Families. I really felt like I learned a lot and left feeling better prepared (though no less nervous!) for this incredible experience that awaits us. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it goes!

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