Families First, Safety Always

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Dec. 4, 2007) – Army officials are empowering Family members to take an active role in implementing safety practices to protect their Families and loved ones returning home from deployments.

The Army recognizes that Army Families are a highly powerful group, capable of positively influencing how Soldiers and Family members think. The Army’s new Family Engagement Kit raises Families’ awareness of the leading indicators in accidents while passing along the “what” and “how” of best practices. Armed with these newly created tools, Family members are afforded active involvement in their Soldiers’ safety.

The U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center study of accident and associated statistics, indicates when Soldiers return from a deployment or controlled environment, the rigors and oversight provided by leaders is diminished.

During fiscal 2007, 186 Soldiers died within one year of returning from deployments. Approximately 30 percent of the deaths occurred within the first 30 days of post-deployment and 63 percent within the first six months. Of the 186 fatalities, 145 involved privately owned vehicles during off-duty hours.

Army safety officials are convinced that oversight, control and structure are beneficial to achieve an accident-free environment. The USACRC’s collective challenge is to formulate tools that target safety and risk management as a "way of life" for application when Soldiers are off duty.

“As leaders, we know that direct engagement with our Soldiers makes a positive difference in their safety,” said Brig. Gen. Bill Forrester, director of Army safety and commanding general of the USACRC. “No one knows Soldiers better than their Families and there are few organizations better positioned than Families to influence Soldiers to make safer choices and take fewer risks.”

Forrester added that the USACRC believes it is extremely difficult to look a spouse or child in the eye and tell them you are not going to wear your helmet or a seat belt because you don't care enough to stay alive for them.

“The Family Engagement Kit features tools that Family members can use to engage their loved ones in best safety practices in order to help protect them,” said Forrester. “Many take very little time or effort, and the payoff is huge.”

In all, the kit includes six tools for post-deployment best practices. One such tool is the Travel Risk Planning System, better known as TRiPS. The aim of TRiPS is to reduce the risk of accidents when traveling by POV, the No. 1 killer of Soldiers.

Another potentially life-saving tool included in the kit is the Motorcycle/ATV Agreement. This tool encourages Families and their Soldiers to discuss the hazards and safety measures associated with riding motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles.

These web-based tools are self-explanatory, self-supporting with PowerPoint briefs containing associated talking points.

The Army’s goal is to put these tools into the hands and empower Army Family Team Building trainers, Family Readiness Group leaders, brigade-level safety professionals, BOSS leaders, parents, and individual Family members to keep our Army team safe, Forrester added.

Families are encouraged to embrace the Family Engagement Kit as another tool supporting one common desire – safer Soldiers and Families.

“Family involvement is essential, so I ask for engagement with your loved one,” Forrester said. “With your help, we can better protect our Nation’s most precious assets – our Soldiers.”

For more information about the Family Engagement Kit, visit the USACRC Web site at https://crc.army.mil/familyengagement.