Military spouses' group celebrates decade of togetherness

September 26, 2007 - 12:56AM

Deployments. Ranks. Acronyms. Uniforms. Regulations. Briefs. Moves.

The Marine Corps can be a difficult environment for even a Marine to navigate. For a spouse, it may be like a different world.

Susan Stalder understands. She got married in February - to Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force.

"I was tremendously insecure about being a Marine Corps spouse," she said.

But Stalder and other Marine Corps wives do not have to go it alone.

Tuesday, an organization designed to help Marine spouses learn about the Corps and navigate the system celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

LINKS - Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills - allows spouses to network and learn more about the Marine Corps in a no-rank environment.

"It is Marine spouses looking out for other Marine spouses," said John Sollis, director of Marine Corps Community Services.

LINKS "links the spouse to the Marine or sailor," said Col. Adele Hodges, commanding officer of Camp Lejeune.

Spouses can learn the lingo, the organization and what their Marines do, she said.

"It makes them part of the team," she said.

Stalder said LINKS quickly helped her feel like she was part of the group.

"I needed to understand the meaning. I needed to understand the underlying traditions. I needed to understand what it means to be a military spouse," she said.

LINKS "literally takes you ... through all aspects of the Marine Corps," she said. "It gives you a lot of tools."

Beth, a LINKS volunteer who trains new mentors, said working with the organization is "a great feeling."

Beth would not give her last name because the organization is a "no-rank zone," and using last names could identify her husband - and therefore his rank - to other spouses.

"I really feel like I've been able to give a part of what I know about the Marine Corps to other spouses," she said. "If I can make life a little bit easier ... then I feel like I've done a good job."

LINKS teaches Marine history and traditions; navigating the community; money issues; deployment issues; moving; and volunteering, Beth said. It also helps spouses network and build friendships, she said.

While many spouses have gone to briefs where they get information from military officials in a large-group setting, LINKS allows spouses to "connect one-on-one," she said.

For more information about LINKS, call 451-1299 or e-mail

Contact military reporter Jennifer Hlad at or 353-1171, ext. 8449. To comment on this story, visit