Thursday, April 10, 2008

You are just a girlfriend.

I did it. I contacted the FRG.

I was terrified to do so - you hear those stories, those stories about Jody and about soldiers receiving myspace messages to inform them that their sweetheart is just "kind of over this" but she's "really sorry, she never thought this would happen." My particular peer group is one that has had it's fair share of bad apples.

You also hear those stories about spouses who say things like "yeah well, you're just a girlfriend" and who assume that just because they are now elevated from girlfriend status to wife status the girlfriend stage never applied to them. They're wives after all.... not JUST a piddly young girlfriend type.

Lets face it, the Army, in all it's progress with technology and equipment and rational thinking skills (which is somewhat debatable) still considers Sgt. as "single." That's why if something happens to him I'll find out through a third party.

Even though Sgt. was the one who set me up on the Virtual FRG site, I was still pretty hesitant to talk to these women. I figured I would just fly under the radar and use some highly tuned, borderline stalking, skills to acquire whatever scraps of information I could piece together. I think at some level, as crazy as it sounds, I was the one putting myself in the "you're just a girlfriend" category. I was afraid I would contact these women and then in some form or another I would be told:

"wow, you're not even supposed to be on this site. This is sensitive information, we can't just have floozy's tramping in and out of these young men's lives parading around as caring and supportive girlfriends, taking our updates and newsletters and weekly DFAC menu's and selling them to the highest bidder! Be gone Jezebel!!"

I was also worried it would somehow affect Sgt. That if I addressed someone incorrectly or asked a question I shouldn't have asked he would suddenly be ridiculed and given a baseball bat instead of an M4 as punishment for having "that girlfriend" who is poking her nose around in the hierarchy of the Army home fires. "Hey Sgt. I heard your girlfriend is taking her newsletter complaints all the way to Pennsylvania Ave." "Oh yeah? I heard she's been calling the Rear D for hour by hour updates... she found our troop NCOIC's house number and is threatening his children"

This is what happens when you drink wayyyy too much coffee late at night.

But, since contact with Sgt. has been sporadic at best and because I'm sure he doesn't have any idea what the heck is going on at the VFRG site... I decided it was best not to bother him with it and put on my big girl pants. "Just do it" I thought. I figured as long as I was polite and kept it short they couldn't do too much damage.

I hadn't heard anything from my (and I say my as in Sgt.'s troop's) FRG leader since he deployed. The website does an ok job but... realistically as much of an information hog as I am, they update far too infrequently (I know, they're busy to). The kicker was that there was finally a new newsletter posted up from downrange but it was linked wrong so it kept sending me to the same one I'd already read 3 months ago. It was driving me insane, so I had to take action.

I e-mailed the squadron FRG leader because that was the only person who's e-mail address I could find on the site and said something like this -

"Hi Mrs. FRG leader, my name is KJ and I am a member of the Super Dooper squadron's VFRG. I noticed that the new newsletter was linked wrong, as it sends you to the old newsletter whenever you click on it. I just wanted to let someone know. Also, I was trying to get in touch with Awesome troop's FRG leader to see if they did any weekly newsletters or anything of that nature. I apologize if this is not the way people normally go about things, this is all very new to me. Thank you so much for any help!"

Whew! That was tough. She wrote back though and seemed very helpful!

"Hi Mrs (should've known something was amiss right about here.) KJ's last name. Thank you for letting me know about the newsletter, I will check it out. Also your FRG leader's name is Jane Armywife and I have copied her to this e-mail to let her know you are trying to contact her. Please let us know if there is anything else we can answer for you or your husband......"

awwww mannnnn.... now I have to go and explain myself. Just as I was about to write her back, my troop's FRG leader wrote me and said:

"Hi Mrs (again with the r.) KJ's last name, I spoke with my husband (omg omg omg omg, I'm in trouble already!!) and he doesn't seem to have a Sgt. KJ's last name in his troop. Is it possible that your husband (no, it's not) is in a different squadron? Sorry I couldn't be of more help."

Damage control: E-mail Sgt. and explain everything. let him know that you're contacting the FRG in case they ask him about it.

"Hey honey, just wanted you to know I e-mailed the FRG leader to ask her about a newsletter so if someone asks you about me asking about it, that's what it is!"

At this point I'm just trying to crawl back out of the hole I think I've put myself in...

"Hi Mrs. Jane Armywife. He's not my husband, he's my boyfriend. Sgt. Sorry for the mix up! I was just trying to get a hold of you to see if the FRG did any weekly or biweekly newsletters for the families. Thanks so much! - KJ"

I waited for a few days and still got no response. I figured once they saw the girlfriend title they dismissed it, and was sort of starting to fume. I mean after all, YES, I am only a girlfriend. But I still care about him just as much. I still worry about him and the men he serves with. I still send care packages and cry when I hear a song that reminds me of him. I still count down the days till I can be in his arms. Just because I don't have a ring doesn't mean I don't love him any less for it. I was frustrated at the thought of the stereotype being true.

Thank goodness it wasn't.

She finally wrote me back and was very nice and told me that unfortunately the troop doesn't do a specific newsletter, and the one on the website is the best bet. Even if that's not true (I'm sure it is though), I'm glad she was at least polite enough to contact me back and let me know. She even asked about Sgt. and asked me about a news article he was in a few months ago.

I know the Army has rules about that sort of thing, and I'm GLAD. I'm glad they have parameters on who is allowed insight into information and who isn't. I'm thankful that there is a group of spouses who volunteers their time for such a thing... especially with their own loved one deployed. I understand that there has to be those rules, and I know that most of the time, I'm going to fall under the "doesn't need to know" category, but the fact that she took the time to at least tell me there wasn't much else, that she was polite even though I'm not one of "them", and that she asked me about how he was doing - that meant a lot.

Thank you Sgt's FRG, for not being snobby stuck up Army wives who think that just because I lack a ring on my left finger I lack intelligence, due respect, or love and concern for a man who wears the same uniform as your husband. THANK YOU. I wish all girlfriends were as lucky.

6 comments:

d.a.r.

Ah, I wish I had been that lucky!! I was not allowed to go to FRG functions, or the senior leader wives coffees because I was JUST a fiancee. Drove me batty. I'm so so very glad that you aren't being degraded by the food chain that is Army wife hierarchy!

trying

It does seem like they dismiss gf (or fiancees) sometimes, we've all been there, but good for you for recognizing that there is a rhyme to the reason. It used to irk me that i couldnt get on base, before we were married, to pick up flyboy when he was getting home from long trips. but all in all im glad they like to keep people out for his safety. personally speaking, and this is just my honest opinion, you arent missing much. our key wives here are useless.

your one hell of an army girlfriend!

Nicole

I was told by my future mother-in-law that I wasn't allowed to be on the FRG emailing list, but out of curiosity I decided to contact her myself. Sure enough she added me to the list :)

I live too far away to worry about functions and meetings, so at least I don't have to worry about being rejected there! haha

Yay for getting on "the list." Makes you feel important doesn't it? Like you're more than "just a g/f or fiancee"

Mrs. Staff Sergeant

My husband and I dated for 3 years before we were married. The last full year of the 3 he was enlisted and far across the country. I cant imagine how difficult it would have been if he'd been deployed. I remember very well the frustration of only being the girlfriend and then only being the fiancée. Not much information was coming my way- that's for sure!

I'm glad the FRG was polite :) I hope you continue to have success with them!

And PS- thanks for adding me to your blogroll!

(army)Wife

Wow! I can't believe the response gf's get. Stonewall is National Guard, so maybe our FRG is just run differently. When I was "just the fiance" I was welcomed with open arms into the FRG. In fact, our FRG welcomes anyone who is interested in volunteering. Both of our sisters are a part of the FRG and neither is a gf to anyone in the unit. A mom is our President and at one point we had another mom who's son wasn't even in the unit, she just needed support and her son's unit didn't have an FRG. I hear alot of horror stories about FRGs, but so far I haven't experienced any of them.

Caroline

One of my ex-boyfriends insisted on adding me to his FRG list. On the emails it had my name and then his name in all caps in parentheses. We broke up over a year ago and he's now married to someone else and for some reason I can't get off the list!