For Gwendolyn Deschamps, an Army spouse, the AFTB training module proved to be instrumental in helping her transition to the Army way of life when she arrived at Fort Bliss, as her husband's first duty assignment. The program provides Soldiers and spouses with coping skills and resources they need to become self-sufficient members of the military community.
"I didn't know where to start or what to do when my husband and I moved to Fort Bliss," said Deschamps. "Upon our arrival, my husband was told that he was deploying in three months, and all I could think about was I should have stayed in Georgia."
The feeling of being alone in a new place with her family so far away was unnerving and stressful to think about, said Deschamps, but with the encouragement of a neighbor she contacted Army Community Service and took the first step to learn more about how AFTB could help with the transition.
From there she learned about the three levels of AFTB training taught through the local ACS, each tailored to focus on a certain area.
Level I is designed to introduce individuals to the Army way of life. Level II teaches individuals about personal growth and discusses topics such as communication, stress management and creative problem solving. Level III allows students to develop their leadership skills and learn how to coach and mentor other military family members.
Deschamps said she decided to sign up for Level I in an effort to gain the basic knowledge of Army life. With scenes of familiarity gone, she now relied on the AFTB module to help cope with the stressors of relocating and look at the positive perspectives on life-changing events.
"I knew that I had to figure out what my roles were as an Army spouse, not just for myself, but for my husband as well," said Deschamps. "Being a wife is hard enough, but now I felt like I had to be so much more."
These feelings aren't anything new for Soldiers and their spouses, said GiGi Winburn, AFTB program assistant.
The Army lifestyle demands a level of commitment and discipline for the entire family; they have to be able to acknowledge change to better understand what their expectations are to work on their own personal development, said Winburn.
"A lot of the Army life, the Soldier doesn't have any control over," Winburn said. "Spouses have to be able to roll with the punches and be understanding to the lifestyle they married into."
Deschamps said the class gave her a better outlook of the Army life and a structure to build on. It helped her to seek out the positive and understand the role of an Army spouse.
"By the end of the first day of AFTB instruction, I realized I was not alone," said Deschamps. "I already felt relief, and I knew my husband and I would be ok."
After completing all three AFTB levels of training she said she had a since of empowerment. The fear she once felt turned to courage; she now felt comfort where before there was nothing but anguish; and where there used to be so much distress was now contentment.
For more information about the AFTB program visit the blissmwr.com/aftb or call 569-5500.