NEWS | April 24, 2016

Family Readiness Group Volunteers Honored at Keeneland

By Maj. Carla Raisler 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Kentucky Guard honored three Family Readiness Group volunteers for their outstanding service to the Kentucky National Guard during Keeneland’s Military Appreciation Day April 24, 2016.

With a combined service of 54 years, Heather Dollar, Patty Wininger, and Pam Feltner have dedicated themselves to supporting not only their families but the families of their National Guard units. Each volunteer had her own story, but together they told a powerful account of duty, honor, and family.

Dollar started as a volunteer in 1993, and in 1997 became the FRG Leader for Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Brigade in Carrollton, Kentucky. She is currently the FRG Leader for the 41st Civil Support Team in Louisville, which will be her last unit before her husband retires in September.

When her husband first deployed in support of Desert Storm she did not have the support she needed. Dollar decided that she would get involved and make sure that other families did have the assistance they needed when their Soldiers deployed.

“My husband deployed to Desert Storm with a separate unit,” said Dollar. “I had no family support group, so I wanted to participate so I could help people, and I stuck with it.”

That was 23 years ago, and she is still going strong. Dollar knows she’s not ready for retirement.

“He wants me to retire,” she said. “I’m gonna try, but that’s going to be hard, it is something I love, and it is something that is very dear to me, and the people are my family.”

Wininger is another career volunteer that knows how hard it is to say goodbye to a unit. She has been volunteering with the FRG program for 19 years. Like Dollar, she also leads the Alpha Battery Family Readiness Group. Wininger works full time as a parole officer. It’s this civilian experience that has provided her with the skills needed to support family members through difficult times.

In 2007, Wininger’s unit experienced a combat related death. She had to use her skills as a parole officer to support the family members of the fallen Soldier and calm the other families within the unit.
“After the death of a Soldier the families got scared,” said Wininger. “Parents were scared, wives were scared, that was a long year. “
But Wininger rose up to the challenge and lead the FRG.

“That was the biggest moment in my life,” said Wininger. “I didn’t take sides, I just stood up, and just talked to people. People would yell at me and I would just say ok, I’m sorry you feel that way. This is what I’ve been told from my leaders, this is what we have to do.”
Wininger’s husband transferred to Charlie Battery, 2/138th in Bardstown, and she has remained with Alpha Battery for almost a year.

“He tells me it’s time to go,” said Wininger. “But it’s hard to say goodbye.”
When Feltner’s husband retired, she remained the FRG leader for her unit, but that’s because her son is also a member of the 207th Horizontal Engineer Construction Company. She’s been with the unit since 2004 and is assisted by her daughter, Courtney, who is the secretary.

“It’s an experience, you learn to love what you are doing, and it makes you feel good about what you are doing,” said Feltner.
Feltner was hesitant about her son joining the National Guard because she knows that he too will eventually deploy. Recently, during a conversation about deployment, her son said she didn’t seem to be worried.

“There are two things you gotta look at,” Feltner told her son. “Mom shows her feelings later, Mom can’t show her feelings right now, because I’ve got other people relying on me.”
This is what it means to be a part of the “Guard Family,” and their dedication truly exemplifies the Army Value of Selfless Service. Feltner, Wininger, and Dollar represent the hundreds of men and women who serve as Family Readiness Group volunteers across the commonwealth. They love what they do, and they love the families they serve.

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