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Friday, May 7, 2010

2BCT spouses, family members conduct CRT training

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hi. – Spouses and family members from 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2BCT), 25th Infantry Division (AAB), conducted Care Response Team (CRT) training April 21 at the brigade classroom on post. During the training, Col. Patricia Frost, the senior advisor to the brigade’s Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) , informed brigade supporters of the importance of having CRTs as well as ways they can contribute or become a member.

A CRT is a specialized team of brigade first responders who assist families following official notification of situations involving critical injury or death. CRT members are selected and assessed by brigade and battalion Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders, and assigned by the Rear Detachment commander based on availability and the situation. These volunteers assist family members and are bound by confidentiality to protect the privacy of the spouse or family.

Despite 2BCT’s mission as an advise and assist brigade, the dangers of being in a warzone remain, and although no one wants to acknowledge the subject, the possibility of a soldier not coming home is there. It is this possibility that creates a need for the CRTs.

The CRT’s duty is to provide a support team during the first 48-72 hours after notification to ensure that the spouse or family members of the soldier receive timely and effective care until the unit Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) mobilize. The CRT sends a clear message that the spouse or family member is not alone while ensuring a noninvasive presence within their home.

“The Rear Detachment has these volunteers that can be activated at a moment’s notice and provide immediate short-term support,” said Elisabeth Olsen, the outreach director for the Army Community Service (ACS) office on post.

Providing support to a spouse or family during one of the most difficult experiences of their lives is no simple task, as the meaning of the word “support” may vary from one situation to the next. Support may include basic emotional support or comfort in the absence of close family or friends. It may also entail making phone calls to family or friends, or even just screening calls at the request of the spouse. Assistance with minor housekeeping, care and feeding of small children, and coordinating meals in the event that the spouse or family member cannot perform those basic functions are all duties of the CRT.

A CRT may be activated for any number of reasons. The death or serious injury of a soldier or leader, either in theater or in garrison, is a circumstance that requires CRT assistance. Suicide, mass casualty situations and the death of a spouse or child in garrison are also reasons to begin the CRT activation process.

The CRT activation process begins with a briefing given to the chaplain and casualty notification officer (CNO). The Rear Detachment commander informs the brigade FRG leader, assesses the situation and places CRTs on stand-by. During notification of death or injury, the chaplain and CNO will ask the spouse if he or she would like CRT assistance, and CRTs are available immediately upon request. The Rear Detachment commander will then determine the scope and duration of CRT support after consulting with the chaplain and CNO.

The brigade has begun final preparations for its deployment to Iraq, including preparing families for potential situations that may arise during a soldier’s deployment and establishing support groups in case of emergency.

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