FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- New spouses can sometimes feel adrift in military communities, a feeling the 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment home to ease with a special panel discussion on post last week.

The unit brought in spouses with Army experience to speak with husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends of new Soldiers. The spouses offered advice to the Army newcomers on how to make connections in the military.

Ebony Racks, who has been an Army spouse for the last eight years, said there were no such programs available for new spouses when marriage brought her fully into the military world. At the time, she said there were no websites for new spouses, just a single point of contact for them to call if they needed assistance.

"I had to learn by myself," she said. "It took me five years to get it together. With this program, it's a lot better. (There are) more resources than I had."

Lt. Col. Thomas McCardell, 3-60th battalion commander, said he was inspired to bring this kind of program to the post after seeing a similar concept at Fort Benning, Ga.

"It was an opportunity for current spouses or future spouses to come in and ask whatever questions they had of our cadre spouses," McCardell said. "We figured we've got a lot of experience through our cadre spouses that we could pass on. We've opened it up and tried to encourage people to come and ask questions."

"I think it's great for all new spouses to have the chance to talk to other, more experienced spouses," said Melea Bauer, an 11-year Army spouse and a member of the Family Readiness Group. "Otherwise, it takes you years and years ... to figure out how to do things. But, if you've got more experienced people to ask in the beginning ... it can be really helpful."

Questions about moving and living on- and off-post are the most common, McCardell said.

"The attendees seem to enjoy it," he said. "Even if it's one or two nuggets they can take away, then I think we've been successful. They can take something from this and carry it on to their next duty station."

Racks said learning to be an Army spouse is hard work, but it pays off in the end.

"It seems like it's going to get harder, but it only gets better," she said. "Live your life like you normally do."

"Reach out and find other people, make connections as quickly as possible because you never know when you'll be leaving," Bauer said. "You have to put yourself out there and make those connections to feel connected at a base and make friends quickly."

Editor's note: Mike Glasch, Public Affairs Office, contributed to this report.

Page last updated Fri March 22nd, 2013 at 00:00