Readiness begins for VA-TF1 with a comprehensive orientation and preparedness program for the families of its members. Deployed without warning and capable of departing in less than three hours, the Task Force must ensure its members are prepared for separations without family contact for 14 days.
To do this, the Task Force established a Family Support Team (FST), composed of Task Force family members who play an integral part in its training and deployment activities. The FST also relieves many burdens from the Department as it provides a mechanism for maintaining lines of communication assistance to the families of deployed members.
The FST begins its activities once new members are added to the Task Force. Once selected, these members are required to attend a formal orientation program that prepares the member for deployments. A special Family Orientation is dedicated to family members, including children. This orientation was developed to educate families on what is expected of Task Force members and their families during deployments. The FST is provided the opportunity explains its services regarding communication, teleconferences, repair services, medical referral, and "family chores."
Once the Task Force is activated, FST are assigned to the Check-In function of the mobilization process. In that role, the FST is the first step in the mobilization process where it assists deploying members by collecting communication devices, validating passport and immunization information, and securing member's personal vehicles. Once deployed, Task Force members are not permitted to contact their families, so the FST becomes a part of the information pipeline for the team. FST or a member of the Support Center staff makes contact with a deployed member's family within 24 hours of departure and then maintains that contact for the mission's duration.
The Task Force could not perform its mission without the valuable support and assistance provided by the FST. It is organized to supply timely information, necessary resources, and beneficial support for the Virginia Task Force 1 family.