Photo Information

Family members and friends of U.S. Marines and Sailors assigned to the Command Element, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), meet for a cook out sponsored by the 26th MEU’s family readiness PROGRAM, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 3, 2013. The 26th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force currently assigned to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group serving as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious operations across the full range of military operations. (Courtesy photo/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels

26th MEU FRO, a family friend

31 Aug 2013 | Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and sailors deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit make selfless sacrifices on a daily basis. Often times, what goes without thought is the sacrifices the family members and loved ones also endure. Going day-to-day worrying about the well-being of their Marine or sailor, often time going weeks with little to no communication.

Fortunately for them, the family readiness officer, more commonly referred to as FRO, is a link between the units and the ones waiting back at home. Not only providing a relief for their stresses by keeping the families constantly updated on the activities of the MEU, but also creating functions for the families to partake in to meet each other to help in these nerve-racking times.

“The primary role of the family readiness officer is to serve as the hub of communication between the command and the family members of the Marines and sailors,” said Lisa Castleberry, 26th MEU FRO.  “All family readiness sponsored events give spouses and family members an opportunity to get together and meet one another.  This is especially important during the deployment as there are generally more questions, worry, and stresses within the family.”

            “It has been great knowing that there are so many people I can talk to if needed,” said Kasey Post, wife of Sgt. Nickolas Post, 26th MEU communications specialist. “The functions help with that ‘alone’ feeling that everyone has gone through during any of this.”

            A recent event, hosted by Castleberry, was held at Onslow Beach, N.C. Aug. 3, 2013. “Events like this are beneficial to the Marines and sailors in that it helps to relieve the stress and worry that the families may have,” she said. “Knowing that the families are being taken care of allows the Marines and sailors to concentrate on their mission. This event is especially important to celebrate since it brings home the fact that the deployment is half over and that the end is in site!”

            “The event had great food and events,” said Kasey. “My 4 year old son couldn't make up his mind on what bouncy house to choose from.  He was very excited to meet new friends. It was great actually talking face to face to some of the wives that I have been communicating with on Facebook since March.”

            The FRO has not been a staple of the military to help families with deployments. Kasey said in addition to her son, she also brought her father to the event. She said her father was previously enlisted in the military and never had anything like a FRO. She said he was glad he could see the benefits of such events and was glad the military provided her an opportunity to network with people in a similar situation.

            “I always recommend that family members attend these events,” said Castleberry. “There is so much comfort in being around other family members who are going through the exact same thing.   Sometimes though, spouses are hesitant to attend without their Marine or sailor for fear of the unknown, or being afraid to go by themselves.  This is why I try to get to know as many of the family members as I can.  That way, if they are hesitant, I can tell them to find me and I will introduce them to people!”

            Along with everyone else, Kasey is extremely excited to have her husband come home, with a good, life-changing reason too.

            “Since he has been gone I have moved into a new house and I will have a very important person to introduce him to when he gets home,” said Kasey. “I am scheduled to have our baby girl on September 19th.”

            With milestones in life like this happening to many deployed service members, the FRO makes sure to help keep their heads held high and to keep their eyes on the day their loved ones return.

            “I couldn't ask for a better FRO,” said Kasey. “Lisa is great, and I don't just consider her a FRO, I definitely consider her a friend and someone I can turn to, no matter the situation.”