FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- When Aleah Ball first moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where her recruiter husband was stationed at the time, she said it was difficult meeting new people.

Though Ball's is a story often heard among military spouses, Fort Jackson Army Community Service is doing its part to make sure those stationed here will have a different story to tell.

A new program called C.O.A.S.T. is bringing various post agencies and information to Fort Jackson's newcomers.

Tamica Doby and Janet Cox, with the ACS New Parent Support Program, said the idea for the program came when the duo noticed many new spouses were confused about where to get information on post agencies and activities.

"We saw a need for spouses to get familiarized with the post," Doby said.
Colleague Melissa Welch, ACS Outreach Program coordinator, encountered similar issues in her work with spouses, and soon, the program was born. C.O.A.S.T., which stands for Carolina Orienting Army Spouses Together, is a one-stop shop for those who have been on post fewer than six months.

Besides the convenience of having several agencies in one spot - ACS, Outdoor Recreation, Balfour Beatty, TRICARE and the Columbia Visitors Center are among the many that are represented - organizers also say it is a place for newcomers to meet other spouses.

"It's also a good place for them to network with each other," Cox said.

She added, "When you PCS, it's easy to get isolated."

Attending the event, which Doby stresses is not just for women, can prevent that isolation.

Ball, who moved to Fort Jackson in December, attended the first C.O.A.S.T. event in May.

"All the information that everyone gave out was really helpful," she said.

Because her husband was previously assigned to recruiting stations, Ball said the move to Fort Jackson was a different experience for her. What she liked about the event, she said, was that it did more than familiarize her with the post.

"They gave us stuff about Fort Jackson, and a little about the surrounding area as well," she said.

It was also a chance for her to meet other spouses, and many of them continue to attend both on- and off-post events together.
C.O.A.S.T. is something Ball wholeheartedly recommends to those new to post.

"It's a wonderful experience," she said. "You learn new stuff, learn where stuff is and you don't have to be afraid to ask questions."

The next C.O.A.S.T. event is scheduled for 10-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, in the Joe E. Mann Center. Spouses who have been at Fort Jackson fewer than six months, or those who have been on-post longer than six months but are still unfamiliar with post, can call 751-5458 for more information.