As a reserve wife, I don’t even know most of the people in my husbands command from month to month, nor do I have any reason to have contact with them. We are not eligible for most programs, and we rarely have things come up that our spouses can’t deal with for us (when it comes to needing to contact the command). And we are often expected to deal with most issues in a civilian manner, not military. So, if you are like me, it never occurred to you to have an emergency plan in place, he’s only gone for a few days a month anyway. And, if you are like me, you have no idea how to contact his unit anyway.
When my husband was deployed, I was a member of the FRG (still called the Key Wives Club, though transitioning to being called the FRG while I was a member). Spouses would call me and I would send stuff up the chain of command. I had my point of contact at the unit and email addresses for those that I needed to be in contact with. When The Boy came home, our FRG was disbanded and our POC left the unit just days later. We were never alerted to someone taking his place and all other members of the command cycled out shortly after. So, when I got injured a few days ago and needed to contact my husband, I had no idea what to do. Red Cross wouldn’t help me, neither would Military One Source. So, what do I do when I’m at home, injured, freaked out and panicking that I have no way of reaching my husband? I called family and friends and was striking out left and right when it came to getting help in general and my panic and stress lever rose higher and higher with each call I made. It’s very scary to be in a situation like that and not even be able to get word to your spouse.
Please learn from our little snafu. It is important as a reserve family to know who to contact when an emergency arises and your spouse is unreachable. Who is supposed to be in charge of the inactive FGR? (my husband actually laughed at that question because we don’t have anyone in charge of it currently) Who should we ask for in an emergency and what is their phone number?
Create a list of these items:
- Create a list of the people you should call and in what order when someone is not available.
- Create a list of resources (provided by the command) that you can use in emergency situations
- Discuss what situations your command deems necessary to pull your spouse out of the field
- Find out what services you are eligible for as a reserve family, since it’s not all of them.
- Find out if there are spouses in your area that you can fall back on in a time of need- I know you might not have any, but you might have ones you don’t know about.
- Find out if the command is interested in having an informal FRG for these types of situations.
- Make sure your husband has his phone charger on him when he leaves to ensure that he is not unreachable due to his phone dying. Sadly, this happens. LOL!
- Make sure people at work know that your spouse is gone and that alternate emergency contacts should be use
- Also make sure that they are aware so that, if you don’t show up, they know they may be the only ones noticing your absence.
This situation could have been a lot less stressful for me if we had just had an emergency plan in place. You’d better believe we will have the most comprehensive emergency plan ever from here on out and so will our unit in all likelihood. In 6 years of being together and four years of marriage, I have never had to contact his unit in an emergency, but it was stupid of us to assume we never would.
Have a plan in place. Just because we rarely use our spouses unit as a resource, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to know who to contact and how to contact them.