Marine Corps Downsizing Family Readiness Support, Cutting Jobs

Kelli Richardson, the Marine Aircraft Group 16 family readiness officer, explains the sequence of events to participants, parents and Marines during the MAG-16 Junior Jarhead Day in aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., June 7, 2014 (Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns/U.S Marine Corps)
Kelli Richardson, the Marine Aircraft Group 16 family readiness officer, explains the sequence of events to participants, parents and Marines during the MAG-16 Junior Jarhead Day in aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., June 7, 2014 (Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns/U.S Marine Corps)

The Marine Corps' Family Readiness Officer program is being downsized and renamed as part of a program overhaul and "reset period," according to an official notice.

Since 2007, the Marine Corps has paid civilian Family Readiness Officers, known as FROs, to run its Unit, Personal and Family Readiness Programs (UPFRP), with one FRO typically assigned to each battalion.

The full-time employees are often Marine Corps spouses from the unit or base. The positions are especially coveted at Marine bases overseas, where other employment options can be limited or non-existent for military spouses.

But now, many of those jobs will be eliminated, the notice states, removing FROs from every battalion and moving them instead to the regiment, or 0-6, level, where each will be responsible for families in multiple battalions instead of one battalion per employee.

"After more than 13 years of sustained combat operations, the Marine Corps is in a reset period, refocusing programs that support Marines and their Families," states the notice, which was published in March and authorized by family programs head Brig. Gen. K.W. Stein. "The UPFRP reset will enable commanders to focus on the basics of family readiness, while enhancing the role of the small unit leadership."

That means reassignment to other jobs for some current FROs -- and pink slips for others, family readiness officials confirmed.

The change, which will also rename FROs as Deployment Readiness Coordinators (DRCs) in active-duty units and Recruiting Readiness Coordinators (RCs) in Reserve units, will be completed by late September, the notice says. Publication of the new DRC and RC job descriptions and reassignments of current FROs from battalions to regiments will be made by June 24.

"There will be approximately 150 civilian DRCs to support the Operating Force commands. FROs will be reassigned to authorized DRC positions based on seniority within their locations," the email states. "HR offices will work to reassign remaining FROs into other [Marine Corps Community Services] positions within their local commuting area, which will result in a very small number of FROs requiring Business Based Actions [downsizing]."

It was not immediately clear how many current FROs are also military spouses.

Battalions are authorized to appoint a uniformed readiness coordinator to fill the gap left by the FRO elimination, officials said. That option is already common in the Army, where downsizing of the civilian staff Family Readiness Support Advisor (FRSA) program to brigade level started in 2011.

Army units typically assign a junior officer to manage family readiness issues, including the unit's roster of family names and addresses and unit functions, such as any balls or morale days.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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