By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneJune 12, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL -- Building a strong military family is based on a triad of quality of life attributes -- military knowledge, personal growth and resilience, and leadership development.
Knowing about military ranks and ceremonies, understanding the need for communication and the importance of team dynamics, learning how to obtain military benefits, recognizing the importance of family readiness groups and accepting that military service often calls on family leadership -- all and more are part of the knowledge base that military families need to support their service member.
Army Community Service is offering military spouses -- along with Department of Defense civilians, retirees and others connected to the military -- the opportunity to gain that knowledge through a series of lunch-and-learn classes and one-on-one meetings to be offered beginning this fall.
It's all focused on the Army Family Team Building program. And at Redstone, where young Soldiers are few and far between, ACS is adapting the program to benefit the Team Redstone community.
"This is a program that teaches military spouses about the military lifestyle," Mary Breeden of Army Community Service said.
"The program includes a lot of information that the Soldier might be getting but not passing on to their spouse. Spouses need that information, too, because they are also part of the military lifestyle. Anyone associated with the military -- other family members, retirees and their spouses, DoD civilians and contractors, ROTC cadets and military volunteers -- can benefit from different aspects of this program."
Army Family Team Building classes will be offered beginning in September based on the interests of those Team Redstone employees and families who take a survey that is now listed on the Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation website as well as on the Garrison website. Those website addresses are: www.redstonemwr.com/surveys/aftb/aftb_survey.php and www.garrison.redstone.army.mil, respectively.
"Most of our Redstone community is made up of either senior enlisted or DA civilians. So, we want to ask them to let us know what classes they want to take. We need to know what is important to them," Breeden said.
"The survey will help us plan our lunch-and-learns, and it will also give us a confidential data base of interested people who may want to sign up for the lunch and learns."
The classes offer progressive instruction to equip military family members and civilian employees with the skills necessary to navigate through the Army system, understand the military mission and way of life, and to successfully access the many resources and services available at the installation. Redstone classes are interactive and will be taught by volunteer instructors Tonya Daniels and Sharon Samuelson along with subject matter experts.
Besides military specific classes dealing with military customs and benefits, the program also offers classes in their areas of personal development and leadership -- things like time management, team dynamics and managing group conflict -- that can provide class members with skills that apply to building a better lifestyle. The classes fall under three subgroups -- Learn, Grow and Lead.
"The stronger we can make the family, the stronger the Soldier is. So, too, the stronger we can make civilians, the stronger the Army's civilian team is," Breeden said. "These classes build resiliency because if you understand how things work it's easier to adapt and adjust."
At larger Soldier-based installations, the classes are filled with spouses. But at Redstone, it is expected they will be filled with people from all walks of life at Redstone.
"These classes can help anyone associated with the military because the more information you have about the military the more confident you are, and you don't feel lost. You can't expect family members or civilians to salute and go on. They want to know why," Breeden said.
"The military lifestyle affects families in so many ways. Being a part of the military family as a civilian also can present challenges when understanding why things are done certain ways. The more they understand, the easier it is for them."
The lunch-and-learn classes are open to family members and employees associated with all military branches, and the National Guard and Reserves.
"Even though these classes emphasize the Army, other branches are welcome to attend. Not all information that is shared is Army specific. It can be applied to all military branches," Breeden said.
The classes are also offered online at Army OneSource, www.myarmyonesource.com.
"The online classes are user friendly as far as getting the information goes," Breeden said. "But attending the lunch-and-learn classes gives you a chance to interact with others in the class and to learn from each other. They offer good networking opportunities and an opportunity to link in with Redstone's military community."
Participants don't have to attend all the lunch-and-learn classes. Once the schedule is set, they can choose which classes they want to attend. The classes can also be taught on a one-on-one basis.
"Army Family Team Building is about linking you in with the Army and the military overall," she said. "Offering these lunch-and-learns and the one-on-one meetings falls in line with the Army Family Covenant and the Army commitment to take care of families who take care of Soldiers."
Another aspect of Army Family Team Building is to develop master level trainers who will participate as volunteer teachers of the classes.
For more information about Army Family Team Building, call Breeden at 876-5397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: The Army Family Action Plan Survey is online at
www.redstonemwr.com/surveys/aftb/aftb_survey.php or www.garrison.redstone.army.mil.