July 3, 2012 — Ginny (White) Klaus, daughter of Victor and Lyda White, still calls Morehead home despite her 16 plus year absence as a Kentucky resident.
The Morehead State University graduate and former reporter for Ashland’s Daily Independent, has been honored with the Army’s Order of Our Lady of Loreto award in celebration of her sacrifice, support, refuge, caring and outreaching of support that she has provided to military families at home.
“Growing up within the Appalachian culture in a small community like Morehead really gave me the training for the volunteer work I do,” she said. “Watching my family and the people in Rowan County build a community by taking care of those around them.”
Klaus has spent the last 15 years as an Army wife, mother of two and tireless volunteer supporting the families within the Army Aviation community through the Family Readiness Group (FRG); the last two years as the senior leader of the FRG at JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) in Washington State.
Klaus left Kentucky in search of a position with a large circulation newspaper and was hired as the crime reporter in Fayetteville, N.C. near Fort Bragg where her future husband was stationed.
While in town with fellow reporters, White met friend of a friend Jay Klaus who asked her to dance. Five states and two countries later the couple celebrated 15 years of marriage last Wednesday.
The couple left Fayetteville with orders to Louisiana where daughter Rachel was born. Toward the end of their two-year assignment, the couple adopted 14-month-old Christian from the Ukraine.
“We completed the international adoption, came back to Louisiana and three days later made our next move to Newport, Rhode Island,” she said.
After Jay advanced through the Navy War College, the family landed in Korea where Jay’s helicopter squadron duties left him with only one weekend a month at base.
Even with Jay’s absence, Ginny felt at home in Korea thanks to the support of the FRG, sense of adventure and ability to form community ties through her volunteer work.
“I would have to say Seoul was one of the most amazing places to live,” she said. “Our kids were able to attend the International Christian School where we had the opportunity to work closely with an orphanage where church members gave a sense of “family” for the children who had none.”
From Korea the family traveled to Germany for a two-year stint until Jay took command of the 4-6 Air Cav. Squadron at JBLM. “As the commander of 1,000 soldiers, I became the senior leader for the units FRG,” she said. “I recalled all of the moves my family had made, and how we arrived at each place and were welcomed like family…as part of a community. That sense of acceptance, support and security came from the FRG.”
The FRG is a command-sponsored organization of family members, volunteers, soldiers and civilian employees associated with a particular unit. FRG’s usually fall under the unit’s commanding officer.
“We are responsible for welcoming families to the base, developing a direct communication network with family members and command, giving round-the-clock support to families especially during deployment or when losing a family member, support families as they adjust to military life and promote a sense of unity and cohesion,” she explained.
“The FRG contributes to the moral and welfare of the Army,” Jay said. “We as soldiers cannot do what we do unless we know our families are taken care of. This is the single most important thing for a soldier both during peace-time and deployment, whether married or not,” he said beaming while recognizing his wife’s efforts, dedication and support to those surrounding her and to their own family.
“These families give up so much in support of our country, and face so many challenges as military families. The tireless efforts of the FRG cannot be measured,” said Jay.
The Klaus family stopped through Morehead last week to visit with the extended White family en route to Washington D.C. where Jay will be working at the Pentagon as a staff officer with the Inspector General.
“This is a three-year commitment which we are looking forward to,” the couple said. “Rachel will able to start and graduate at one high school which is a good feeling,” Ginny said. “There have been so many adventures and experiences in these last 15 years, but being able to stay put for a while can be comforting.”