Support our mission

DARMSTADT, Germany — Family Readiness Groups around U.S. Army Europe are about to get a $250,000 windfall that USAREUR officials say can be used for a variety of purposes.

“Really, what I hope is, those FRGs that had set aside money to do something permanent” will use the appropriated funds for capital purchases, which are heavily restricted, said Brig. Gen. Russell L. Frutiger, deputy chief of staff, personnel, at USAREUR headquarters in Heidelberg. That will free up the money they raised, which is subject to far fewer regulations.

The $250,000 earmarked for FRGs will be disbursed immediately across USAREUR to commanders of units that are deployed, are going to deploy or have been deployed. That includes most Germany-based units including V Corps and both forward-based divisions, the Wiesbaden-based 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division, based in Würzburg. The money is not related to the 1st AD’s extension in Iraq, Frutiger said.

“This is to take care of families,” he said. “We’re hunting for more. … It’s been a tough year for money, so we’re lucky to get this.”

The funds come from G-1 (personnel and resource management) budget savings, and must be spent by end of September, Frutiger said.

The $250,000 breaks down to:

• $6,000 for division FRGs.• $2,000 for brigades FRGs.• $1,000 for battalion FRGs.• $300 per separate company.

FRG leaders do not have to apply for the funds, Frutiger said.

There are restrictions on what FRG leaders may do with the money. Because the money is appropriated funds, it can’t be used for financial gain, which would exclude fund-raising.

The money may be used for equipment purchases such as computers or business software or for transportation to training or temporary-duty expenses, Frutiger said.

The money also may be used for banners or hall rentals for welcome-home parties, for example, but not for food or beverages, he said.

A quarter-million dollars represents one of the largest infusions of money in her memory, said Dianne Hamilton, who was an FRG leader at both the company and battalion levels.

Army officials never meant for FRGs to be big money raisers,Hamilton said, and are limited to $1,000 in nondesignated funds. However, restrictions on fund raising have eased in recent years.

Before, FRG leaders could do minor fund raising. But to raise funds outside of units, FRG members had to be sponsored by an official, private organization, with base support battalions’ authorization and spending accountability.

The requirement for private organizations as sponsors has been lifted for major fund raising, though facility managers do have to authorize fund-raisers and provide some oversight, Hamilton said.

Army emphasis and reliance on FRGs to make families’ lives better has grown in the last 10 or 15 years, she said.

Use of appropriated funds

While appropriated funds cannot be used to purchase all of the supplies, materials and other nice-to-have items, they can be used to purchase other authorized, high-cost items that drain Family Readiness Group coffers.

• The $250,000 may be used for training, limited to paying for travel and training for an FRG leader who is acting as an expert, consultant or adviser for the U.S. government.

• Authorized purchases for FRGs include paper to print newsletters, large paper for welcome-home banners or other signs, art supplies to create welcome-home banners, and dedicated office furniture and equipment. Office purchases allowed include computer equipment, furniture and supplies. The money may not be used for computer games.

• Commanders may pay the rental cost for halls for official welcome and reunion activities. However, appropriated funds may not be used for food, beverages, party supplies, party decorations, gifts, bands or entertainers.

• Area Support Group commanders may use appropriated funds to pay volunteers’ childcare expenses rung up during volunteer services. Other commanders may pay childcare expenses for FRG volunteers under certain conditions.

— Terry Boyd

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up