FORT BLISS, Texas - It's no mystery that many of the Army's senior leaders are where they are today in part because of the support of their spouses and families. The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy and the Army took a big step in recognizing that support through this year's Spouse Leadership Development Course classes.

While some form of the course has been around since USASMA's 1972 conception, this year marks the first time that the resident and nonresident versions of the spouse training are listed in the Army Training Requirements and Resources System, said Sgt. Maj. Letha Lawson, the course instructor and manager of the academy Spouse Leadership Development Program.

The course provides leadership training to the spouses of Sergeants Major Course students to prepare them for the critical roles they'll also play as their Soldiers take on responsibilities as sergeants major.

The academy conducts four seven-week long SLDC classes during the nine-month long Sergeants Major Course, and with this year's two back-to-back Nonresident Sergeants Major Course classes, there were also two sessions of the NSLDC; another first.

With three of this year's four resident SLDC classes and the two NSLDC classes added to ATRRS, Lawson and the course graduates can celebrate the official recognition of all versions of the training.

Like the Sergeants Major Course, the nonresident version of SLDC covers a similar curriculum to the resident version, which trains on everything from teambuilding and group dynamics to understanding global, military and Army structures.

"The difference is, we've only been doing the NSLDC for four years, and where the resident version of the course is able to spread the training out over seven weeks, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday for three hours a day, the NSLDC is only really here for five days," Lawson explained.

She added that in order to meet the ATRRS requirements, a class must complete 40 hours of training, which requires a great deal of dedication from the NSLDC classes since they aren't at the academy as long.

"I guess I just didn't realize how important it would be to them ... but it really does make sense that they would want that same level of validity that their [Soldiers] get," Lawson said, recalling how surprised she was by the motivated reaction she got from the spouses when she first mentioned the idea of getting the course into ATRRS earlier this year.

"It's a significant thing - the course being in ATRRS," said Michelle Engel, a NSDLC Class 1-08 graduate and wife of Sergeants Major Nonresident Course student Command Sgt. Maj. John Engel. "With the support we give our [Soldiers], it really becomes a partnership, so we must work together and train together, and with this course in ATRRS, just like all the courses our [Soldiers] attend, it really validates our training, too."

With 31 years of Army marriage in her rucksack, Michelle represents the voice of experience. Other spouses newer to the Army Family also feel the significance of the achievement.

Although Lisa Early, a NSLDC Class 1-08 graduate, has only been married to Sgt. Maj. Paul Early for a year, she said that the spouse training was especially valuable to her as she takes on this very new role of being a senior spouse leader, which is completely different from just being a senior spouse.

"I tell all of these spouses, 'We can't make you a senior spouse, you did that yourself when you got married - but we can help make you a senior spouse LEADER,'" Lawson explained. "That's what truly makes it training, and why it belongs in ATRRS."

As Michelle, Lisa and their fellow NSLDC classmates head back to the field, like their Soldiers who graduated the Nonresident Sergeants Major Course, they too are ready for the fight; and now they have an ATRRS history to prove it.

Page last updated Wed July 2nd, 2008 at 09:15