Have You Met My Wife? By: Christine Gilbreath
In June of 2006 the National Guard went through a major restructuring. For my husband Scott’s unit this meant a complete break-up of the existing unit and the forming of new unit configurations. Each of these new units had to be complete ‘stand alone’ entities, with a Commander, First Sergeant, etc. Each new unit had a time limit to get in compliance with all National Guard and State of Texas requirements. One of these requirements was to have a fully appointed, trained, and functioning Family Readiness Group (FRG).
In the beginning, the new unit had an acting commander; his wife lived over three hours away and was unable to take on the responsibility. They had an acting First Sergeant; his wife had small children, a full time job, was taking college courses and was unable to take on additional duties. The Platoon Leaders were single, no help there. And so it went, until the commander called Scott into the office one afternoon to talk to him.
It wasn’t a long or involved conversation, the CO explained what was required from the State for the FRG. He explained when and where the next training class was to be held. He explained that he didn’t envision or expect a lot of time or effort would be needed for the FRG program. The Co further explained that what he wasn’t really familiar with what an FRG did but what he really needed was a solid name on the paperwork so he could check off that box as fully compliant, someone to fill the role. “Would your wife be willing?”
At this point Scott, God love him, he knows me so well, said “Have you MET my wife?”
Scott came home that night and after dinner while the kids were occupied with the clean up, he broached the subject with me. He explained everything the Co said and ended with, “it sounds like a little more than an In Name Only situation, and so, what do you think?”
At this point I looked him dead in the eyes and asked, “Has he MET your wife?” I am not now, nor have I ever been a ‘meets minimum requirements’ or an ‘in name only’ type of person.
I agreed to at least go in and speak with the Commander about the FRG position. I also didn’t know very much at the time about the FRG and truthfully what little I did know didn’t exactly thrill me. I listened to what the CO had to say, I did some research, and in the end I accepted the position. I only had one stipulation: if I was going to do this, I was GOING to DO this.
That was August of 2006 and so much has happened since then, good, bad, and unfortunately tragic as well. I have grown, went through three more Company Commanders before taking my current position as Battalion FRG Advisor in 2009. In addition to my unit and battalion FRG work I also started working with State Family Programs on larger projects, helping other units and battalions when needed.
Everything I have done; everything I have been involved with, every new person I met, every email and phone call answered, every project, every party planned, and every event attended has led me to this point, to this place in time and this newest chapter in my life.
I am extremely proud, humbled and honored to be named the FIRST EVER 2012 National Guard Military Spouse of the Year! I have big dreams, big plans for how I would like to represent the National Guard and all branches of the Military Community. We need to establish a Comprehensive Spouses Sponsorship and Orientation Program. We need to offer new Spouses the resources, tools, and knowledge they need to have their own successful ‘Military Career’, right when they need information the most, at the very beginning.
I have no doubts that it will take hard work and the support of untold numbers of people. Equally I have no doubts that it is necessary and vital to a healthy, happy, and actively growing Spouses Community. It is going to be an interesting year, one I look forward to getting started, and hope to take as many of you with me along the way as I can.
I have already begun meeting and working with many new people, it is hard at times to remember all the names and faces. My husband Scott, when he is with me, never fails to make introductions. Unlike six years ago however the question is “Have you met MY WIFE?”, and as we all know, inflection is everything.
Christine M. Gilbreath has been married to SSG W. Scott Gilbreath for over 18 years. They have two teen-aged children and live in Crowley, Texas. Christine is prior Active Duty Army, and left Military Service to pursue full time motherhood. Christine started her FRG career in 2006 when she was appointed to FRG Leader for Delta 2-149th GSAB, she moved to the Battalion FRG Advisor role in 2009 and currently holds that position with 2-149th GSAB. Christine was recently named National Guard Bureau’s Gold Star Volunteer for 2012, Texas State Family Program’s FRG of the Year, AAAA’s Our Lady of Lareto award for 2012, and Military Spouse Magazine’s first ever National Guard Spouse of the Year for 2012. Previous awards also include The TAG’s Spirit award, Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, The Freedom Table Award, NCO Spouse of the Year, and various awards for volunteer service hours.