1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – usa photo (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – usa photo (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – usa photo (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – usa photo (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Feb. 27, 2020) -- Thirteen military wives graduated from the Army Family Team Building's Growing Spouses program during a ceremony Feb. 21, at the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum.

The 32-hour program prepares spouses emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally as their Soldiers are assigned to leadership positions, said Dr. Ella Foley, Growing Spouses program director.

The course covered such topics as Army history, customs and courtesies, as well as the numerous resources available to Soldiers and their families.

The instruction featured guest presenters including the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill command team, as well as the garrison commander, Foley said.

On the last day of the course, students heard from command teams, including their spouses, ranging from the brigade level to first sergeants.

Spouse Janie Guerra said the command teams' presentations were very helpful.

"We asked questions about their experiences, their hardships, and any advice for spouses whether they were in for five years or 20 years," Guerra said.

The program was open to spouses of sponsors of all ranks. Growing Spouses was recently placed under Army Community Service, said Lisa Jansen-Rees, ACS director.

"The program hasn't changed a bit," Jansen-Rees said. "The only difference is now under ACS, it will always have a home."

Graduation speaker Fort Sill Garrison Commander Col. Don King Jr. asked the graduates to share their new found knowledge.

"You have insight on a lot of great programs that support you and your families, but you now also have the knowledge to help support others," King said.

Growing Spouses is run entirely by volunteers, and is only funded for child care for its participants, Foley said.

As spouses graduate from the course, Foley said she hopes they will volunteer to run Growing Spouses. Through peer teaching, the program's instructors can teach new volunteers to become instructors and Growing Spouses can perpetuate, she said.

"I'm very grateful for our volunteers. They are all military spouses and they made this iteration a success. I'm so thankful for all the command teams who support this course, too."

Spouse Chastity Lairson said she took the course on a friend's recommendation, and to help the Soldiers and families of 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery, where her husband is a first sergeant. Even though an Army wife for 16 years, Lairson said she gained much from the course.

"I learned about the resources available at Fort Sill, and from listening to other spouses how to better our SFRG (Soldier and Family Readiness Group)."

The next Growing Spouses course will be offered in May. For more information, visit Facebook's AFTB-Growing Spouses.