NORFOLK (NNS) -- Individual augmentee (IA) spouses were treated to an IA-focused Web-based radio show presented by Navy Wife Radio April 21 addressing news, policies, and challenges affecting IA Sailors and families.
Members from U.S. Fleet Forces Command, the Navy's executive agent for the IA Continuum, and Expeditionary Combat Readiness Command (ECRC), welcomed Navy Wife Radio's invitation to provide IA spouses the latest information on support efforts for IAs and IA families during their IA tour.
"Families do not have access to the military email system or plan of the day. They do not attend quarters or department meetings. If we want to put the word out to families we need to do so through 'family channels' as well as military channels, that way the Sailor and the family have access to the information," said Samantha Hand, ECRC Family Readiness team member, and participant in this week's show.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, provided assurances and advice in a recent message to IA Sailors and families.
"I can assure you we will value your service, and we will continue to care for your family. Also, as you go through this process, take the time to talk to other IA Sailors and Navy families who have already answered this call," Greenert explained.
Navy Wife Radio's IA-focused Webcast radio show this week was a direct result of feedback from their listeners - Navy wives.
"They (IA spouses) want to know how will having their Sailor deployed to a war zone affect their marriage, will he come home different and how do they stay connected," said Wendy Poling, NavyWifeRadio.com executive producer and co-host, and Navy wife of former IA. "They want to know what type of support they should be receiving from their command. Plus, the Navy is making great strides in taking care of IA families, and we want to highlight that and inform the families."
Started in 2007 by Poling's self-proclaimed "crazy idea to have a radio show featuring military spouses" after she got XM radio in her car, Navy Wife Radio now has a new social networking site, MyMilitaryLife.com. This features member blogs, photos, events, forums, groups and videos, and provides readers and listeners the opportunity to give immediate feedback.
"The instant communication with people living your same lifestyle is life changing. Our show and sites exist to support, encourage and re-energize military spouses," said Poling.
The weekly Navy Wife Radio show is every Tuesday evening at 10 EST, and can be downloaded anytime. IAs and IA families can still listen to this week's show at www.navywiferadio.com. It addressed options to dealing with common challenges spouses have during IA deployments and recent policy updates.
"I've been very surprised at the support we have received, it has all been positive," Poling added. "The Navy has made huge progress in this area, but still has a lot of work to do. I think it's a great sign how leadership is supporting Navy families in new ways. Taking care of Sailors and families is what it is all about and we are passionate about the Navy family."
This week's show also discussed the Navy's latest efforts to more effectively communicate IA news and information to IAs and their families.
The first stop for basic IA information is www.ia.navy.mil. In addition The "Navy Individual Augmentees" Facebook page has over 300 fans receiving current IA news, photos, and discussions between IAs and IA families. The twitter.com/Navy_IA page has over 150 followers receiving tweets with news snippets and links for IAs.
According to Hand, all of these efforts are important to IA families and the Navy.
"Spouses play a significant role in the decision many Sailors make to 'Stay Navy'. Effective communication to and from the command is often a key factor in the decision making process," Hand explained. "Most importantly, communicating with the IA families shows that the Navy is as committed to providing traditional support services for the family, before, during and after the IA deployment, as the family is to supporting their Sailor's decision to 'Stay Navy'", she explained.
According to Poling, Navy Wife Radio hosts an IA-focused show about once a quarter.
For more news from Individual Augmentee, visit www.navy.mil/local/IA/.