View Full Version : Information sessions arm spouses with Corps knowledge

12-09-05, 06:48 AM
Information sessions arm spouses with Corps knowledge
MCB Quantico
Story by Cpl. Susan Smith

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Dec. 8, 2005) -- Recruits endure three months of intense training to make the transition from civilian to Marine. But Marine spouses get thrown into the military lifestyle without any formal training.

Quantico’s military spouses can turn to the Lifestyle, Insight, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program to help adjust to the change. The program offers three three-hour or two four-hour sessions each month packed with information about the Marine Corps, resources, services, community activities, and deployment and separation issues.

“If Marine spouses have an understanding of the Marine Corps’ mission and how it affects them, and acquire the knowledge and develop the skills to successfully meet the challenges of the future, they can better support their Marine, form a closer family, be a part of a cohesive team, and make new friends,” said Sgt. Maj. William Johnson Jr., Headquarters and Service Battalion sergeant major. “In the end, LINKS training can become another enhancement in our ability to accomplish our mission.”

Every Marine spouse is welcome to attend the sessions, whether they are new to the Corps or have recently married into the Corps. Many decide to take the classes when their spouse makes the decision to re-enlist and make the Corps a career. The classes are intended for spouses of both officers and enlisted Marines – “Wives have no rank,” said Shannon Mancini, LINKS on-installation trainer. Spouses can attend the sessions at any time during their Marines’ tours in the Corps. Leathernecks can also attend with their spouses, or on their own to freshen up their knowledge on Marine Corps services and resources.

The first topic discussed, “The Corps,” helps the spouses better understand the Marine Corps’ organization, mission, culture, history and traditions.

“Getting Through the Maze” is the next topic, and it introduces and explains the various services available to military family members, such as the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System, the New Parent Support Program, and Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. The mentors give the participants a virtual tour of the base, using pictures of each building introduced.

“A lot of people get tangled up financially, not because they are ignorant, but because they just don’t understand the verbage,” Mancini said.

“I$ that all there i$?” teaches about financial issues to include checkbook awareness, how to stay away from loan sharks, and reading a Leave and Earnings Statement.

“Your Marine is Away” advises spouses on how to prepare for their spouses’ deployments and how to cope emotionally, financially and administratively while they are away.

“Moving to a new duty station can be overwhelming, because there is a lot to do and a lot to think about,” Mancini said. “‘Crossroads: Moving in the Military,’ educates spouses about the different types of moves, how they can prepare to make the move a lot easier, and what to do once they get to their new duty station.”

A chaplain instructs “Getting Along and Communicating,” which gives advice and information about relationships and how to get through tough times.

“The chaplain reminds the spouses that it is just as hard on their spouses when they go to the field as it is on them, and that it is not their choice when they have to work late or when they have duty,” said Rachel Clark, LINKS team leader. “For many of the spouses, it is their first time living alone, away from mom and dad, so it takes a lot of adjusting, and the chaplain talks about ways to deal with different issues.”

This class also gives the students the opportunity to be familiarized with one of the chaplains on base, and it gives the chaplain the opportunity to talk about some of the programs they offer.

“Stay Marine” is taught by a senior Marine, enlisted or officer, who explains the benefits of making the Corps a career. The Marine opens the floor to questions, and someone always asks what they can do to help their service member, Mancini said.

“The number one thing a Marine spouse can do is be supportive,” she said.

“Investing in Your Community” is the last class because it focuses on the students instead of their Marines, and stresses the importance of getting involved in the base and local communities.

The mentor teaches the participants how volunteer work amplifies the quality of a resume.
After completing the LINKS sessions, the spouses are armed with a wealth of knowledge and feel compelled to share it with others, Mancini said.

“It empowers them,” she said. “They walk out of here knowing how to handle a problem at its inception so it does not have to reach the (commanding officer) or (executive officer).”

Johnson is starting an initiative to increase the number of spouses who attend LINKS by raising the awareness among Marines through the company first sergeants.

“I would like the Marine spouses to have a better understanding of the Marine Corps mission and how it affects them,” he said. “LINKS will do that. The course will make the spouses more confident, more aware and more supportive.”