New family readiness officer brings positive changes[MIGRATE]

By Cpl. Juan D. Alfonso | September 08, 2008

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, received a new family readiness officer Aug. 4, who brings a new enthusiasm to the position.

Cheryl Roy, MarForPac’s family readiness officer and a Marine spouse, brought a new system for commanders to pass information to families about their deployed service members.

The Mass Communication Tool is a voice-recognition software application designed to instantly send information to families through eight methods, which include email accounts, text messaging and voice messaging, Roy said.

With the system, commanders and FROs can record a message, such as upcoming predeployment briefs or a message stating their loved one has safely arrived to their deployment site, and with the push of a button send it to every man, woman and child in the system.

“The Commandant of the Marine Corps threw a lot of money our way and this system is just one of the ways we are putting it to good use,” Roy said.

The program is changing how the Marine Corps takes care of its family members, a process that has been evolving for some time.

“When I first became a Marine spouse I had a gunny tell me that receiving food stamps was one of my benefits,” she said. “We don’t get food stamps. That’s just an example of how little we all knew about family readiness back then. But, things changed and are continuing to get better.”

Once Marine officials realized the Corps needed to take better care of the families, they created the Key Volunteer Program - a network of spouses who call each other using a phone tree to disseminate command information.

“The phone tree worked great but the problem was if one volunteer had to contact 45 spouses, sometimes they wouldn’t receive the information for a long time or they just couldn’t get in contact with them.”

Using the Mass Communication Tool, a service member can choose up to four individuals, not necessarily family members, to receive all the information the commander puts out instantly.

The system eliminates the need for key volunteers because they are no longer required to organize deployment and family events, but spouses who still want to be involved can become family readiness assistants, said Shanon Lacovara, the Marine Corps Family Team Building for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

“The KVN is going through a transitional phase,” she said. “We are taking the role of the volunteers back to what they were originally intended to be – as a resource and referral point for the commands not to coordinate all the events and take up so much of their time.”

 The assistants would help Roy run the numerous functions and programs she handles and perform duties similar to the KVN on an as-needed basis, Roy said.

Roy plans to visit each work section within the command during the next couple weeks to register service members and the four individuals they’d like to select for the Mass Communication Tool.

But military families don’t have to wait to receive information. They can get it themselves whenever they’d like by visiting their FRO.

“I want the Marines to know they’re welcome to come to my office anytime,” Roy said. “I may be able to help with some things you wouldn’t think I’d traditionally handle, but I’m here to help whenever it’s needed. Family readiness and mission readiness – you can’t separate the two.”

For more information contact Roy at 808-477-8765 or email her at