By Phoebe Sisk, Major, 1st Brigade, Texas State Guard
MINERAL WELLS, Texas -- The men and women who serve the state of Texas are known by many names- heroes to some- and to four-year-old Scarlett Dove of Mineral Wells- Mom and Dad.
Scarlett’s father is Lt. William Dove, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former U.S. Army soldier who has served in the Texas State Guard since 2016. Lt. Dove is currently a volunteer on a year-plus deployment in support of the Operation Lone Star border security mission. Scarlett’s mother is his wife Stacy, a devoted civilian spouse credited with the significant volunteer effort of standing up the first Family Readiness Group (FRG) in the 80-plus-year history of the Texas State Guard. The FRG is an organization that provides critical support, communication, and a sense of belonging to the families of service members.
“Since I began serving in this role, I’ve taken my kids to every event possible,” says Stacy. “In addition to allowing them to witness the value of their dad’s service, I wanted them to understand how much positive can come from helping others... I tell them to do it for the cause not for the applause.”
After 20 years of marriage, Stacy is now her own breed of veteran in terms of supporting a deployed spouse. As the current head of the 1st Brigade’s FRG, her unfailing commitment to the Texas State Guard since her husband joined stems from a strong calling to ensure other families do not experience the same lack of support and resources she experienced as a young military spouse overseas.
“After my first contact with the Army’s FRG in Germany,” Stacy says, “I never heard from them again, so I was left to figure out everything on my own... this made me very sympathetic to the needs of families of service members going forward.”
With four children, including the youngest who has recently been diagnosed with a learning disorder and, of late, has required extra attention, love, and support, Stacy also single-handedly runs the family farm, which includes the daily care and feeding of cows, donkeys, chickens, guinea fowls, ducks, and a goat.
“My areas of priority- family, farm, and the FRG- have melded together to form one seamless world, so often it feels that my daily tasks are accomplished simultaneously instead of separately,” says Stacy. “There’s not a time when I am not reaching out to someone in the name of the FRG because I know we are all having, at times, the same hard day.”
Stacy feels that the 1st Brigade’s FRG has come a long way since its launch, at one point providing services to the entire Texas State Guard during a period of responding to the simultaneous missions of Hurricane Laura, COVID-19, and assisting with civil unrest throughout the state.
“We’ve built the FRG program from the ground up, researching the best of all military branches and adopting what fits our own hybrid organization,” says Stacy. “Still, we need to be better about connecting, just picking up the phone and making a call.”
Standardizing the platform of service offered within the FRG is also a goal, which Stacy claims has been facilitated through her team of four dedicated members who maintain excellence throughout the organization with little oversight: Stefanie Lassiter, David Montes, Anna Thomas, and Gina Jacobson.
According to Jacobson, serving on the 1st Brigade’s FRG has been a wonderful way to get to know the high-quality individuals with whom her husband serves. “I didn’t understand the caliber of persons that made up the Texas State Guard until I got involved,” she said. “I’ve been impressed.”
Stacy contends that she will continue reaching for the highest goal of ensuring all families feel connected and supported, and meanwhile, feels good about the work that has been done.
“My pinnacle moment was in helping a spouse who experienced a very rough time get on her feet again- through helping her find an apartment, a job, and a way back to school,” says Dove. “It was also a great moment when we delivered a care package to every single deployed service member for the holidays.”
“We are immensely grateful for the role that servicemember families play in supporting the work of the Texas State Guard,” says Maj. Gen. Anthony Woods, Commanding General of the Texas State Guard. “I want family members to know that their work, their sacrifice, is essential and deeply valued. We couldn’t do what we do without their support.”
During April, National Volunteer Month, the Texas State Guard salutes the many men and women in and out of uniform who give back to their communities in countless ways great and small. Volunteerism makes the Lone Star State a stronger, healthier, and happier place to live. To learn more about the Texas State Guard, its history of public service, and opportunities to serve, go to tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.