'Get REAL' prepares new spouses for military life
March 15, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 15, 2012) -- Christin James had been an Army spouse for several years before she took any Army Family Team Building classes. She thought she already knew everything she needed to know about military life, but when she finally took a class, she was amazed at how much she learned.
"I fell in love with the program" said James, the AFTB volunteer program manager. She went on to complete all the levels of AFTB and the instructor training.
Eventually, James, three other AFTB instructors and Shellie Kelly, the Army Family Action Plan program manager, came together to create Get REAL -- a monthly one-day event that teaches the fundamentals of AFTB.
The class covers military acronyms, Army customs and courtesies, chain of command, rank structure and community resources. A portion of the class also teaches the etiquette of formal military functions.
The next Get REAL class is March 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Commons, Bldg. 8950.
"Get REAL is targeted toward spouses who are new to the military and may find military life a little confusing or daunting, where other AFTB classes are geared toward literally everyone." Kelly said.
James says Get REAL, a program offered only at Fort Rucker, focuses on the things she and the other instructors thought were the most important things everyone needed to know.
"We wanted to make it fun, make it really relaxed and informal," she said.
The class is discussion-based and activity-driven, Kelly explained, adding the instructors use games like Jeopardy to teach various sections of the class.
"It's not just me telling them where to go," she said.
Get REAL begins in a classroom, but in the afternoon, classes get to participate in an activity on post. In the past, classes have gone bowling or painted a piece of pottery at the arts and crafts center. The upcoming class is scheduled to take a tour of the Silver Wings Golf Course and have a basic golf lesson, if weather permits, said Kelly.
"People don't realize all that's available to them here on post," she added.
In addition to all the information, one of the most important things James thinks a person will gain from Get REAL is that they're in an environment with other people, spouses usually, that are going through the same thing they're going through.
"If nothing else, it's a great way to meet other people," she said.
All Get REAL instructors are volunteers and most of them are military spouses, said Kelly. They know what it's like to be new to the military.
"The people who teach (Get REAL) are people who care about the total military Family and they just want to give back. They use their skills and their experiences to mentor and teach those who are newer to the military," she said.
James agrees, saying, "There's always someone who has been through what you're going through. Don't ever feel like you're alone. The best way to overcome your fear is to educate yourself and I think AFTB is a great way to do that. It gives you the confidence you need to be a successful military spouse. In AFTB, we give you the tools you need to succeed."
To register for Get REAL, call Kelly at 255-2382.