PERU — Kari Harmon has developed a passion for serving those who serve the country.
For about the past eight years, her volunteer efforts have included providing resources for service members’ families on Indiana military bases and extending friendly gestures to service members themselves stationed all over the country and world.
She’s never joined the military herself and had no service members in her immediate family until marrying her husband years after she started volunteering. It was a passion instilled not by exposure, she said, but an appreciation for all that those in the armed forces do.
The 46-year-old estimates she first joined a family readiness group at the Grissom Air Reserve base in 2005 or 2006. Then in 2009, she joined one at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh after marrying her husband, U.S. Army Maj. Bradley Harmon, who retired in 2012.
Upon her husband’s retirement, Harmon too left the 205th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury, which was made up of about 1,500 soldiers, as the leader of its family readiness group.
A member of a family readiness group has far-ranging responsibilities, Harmon said. They help new families acclimate to new bases and communities, assist with solving problems and serve as liaisons between families and service members after deployment. She’s done it all.
Col. Kevin Extine with the Indiana National Guard describes family readiness groups as “programs where family members can share information, come together to create networks and to create a continuity with everyone having something in common.”
When a service member is deployed and their spouse experiences any kind of problem, whether it’s a broken hot water heater, leaky roof or questions about health insurance, it can often be difficult to know who to turn to in a new place. That’s where the family readiness group comes in, Extine said.