FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Jan. 28, 2010) - Barbara Harrison, wife of a retired military officer, sat with about 10 women and talked about their past, current and future roles as military spouses.

As part of a seminar for the School for Command Preparation, spouses shared their stories about marrying into the military - from those married within the past year to those with decades of experience.

The Personal Awareness and Leadership Seminar, or PALS, is a three-day workshop to help provide military spouses with a better idea of who they are and what they want out of their futures, said Christina Love, Spouse Training and Education Program coordinator for SCP. This month's PALS seminar is one of four offered throughout the year. The seminar is targeted toward the spouses of Command and General Staff College Intermediate Level Education and School of Advanced Military Studies students, but is open to all officer spouses. The course is free and counts as credit in some college programs.

Love said group topics include identifying personal values, group development, resiliency, grief and loss, family readiness group training and leadership. Participants also take the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test to develop more self-awareness.

"We want to plant a seed of awareness and get them to look at their future, what they want out of it, and how to improve themselves," Love said.

This is the second seminar SCP has conducted since October. Love said attendance was about 25 students per seminar, but could have up to 50. Each seminar is broken down into smaller groups led by facilitators such as Harrison, who have gone through course training and had experience as a military spouse.

Laura Snyder and Angela Buursma each took the course hoping to gain more knowledge.

Buursma came to the course because a neighbor recruited her. She met and married a Soldier already in a command position who deployed about a year later.

"I was supposed to be in charge of an FRG, but I didn't even know what it stands for," she said.
Snyder grew up in the Army, but noticed a lot of changes when she married a Soldier because of the war on terrorism.

"When I was a kid, we didn't deploy anywhere," she said. "It was the Cold War."

With all the resources the Army now provides for its families, Snyder said she wanted to meet other spouses with similar issues. For example, more than 100 spouses, parents and other extended family members were in one of Snyder's FRG groups. Some FRG groups might only have six participants and a different group dynamic.

June Foley, another facilitator for PALS, said the skills learned in the program could be applicable for any situation.

"It truly is an opportunity for Army spouses to gain insight of who they are, what they want out of an Army life," she said.

There are two other scheduled PALS seminars for this year, March 2-4 and May 11-13, but Love said SCP could add more seminars if needed. Call 758-3336 for information about PALS.

Love said SCP also offers a Command Team Seminar 12 times per year for spouses of brigade and battalion commanders and command sergeants major."