I think the Army needs a mentoring program. Most jobs, you have on the job training, In professional jobs, you often have a mentor. I think we need a mentor program for military spouses – especially for first deployments. A program that hooks up the brand-new wife (or fiancée) with an experienced one; that connects spouses who have gotten through a combat deployment with people whose soldier just got word a deployment is coming up.
Wouldn’t it be great if, as a brand-new spouse, you had an assigned battle-buddy of sorts? A fellow spouse who was not only knowledgeable but who had also maintained a good attitude and a healthy marriage in the current op tempo, who’d been through at least one combat deployment…. Someone not from your unit, so you could ask without worrying about the gossip tree being involved. Someone you could ask not only ‘Where do I find this on post?’ (which you could ask a sponsor, if you were lucky enough to get one) but also ‘How do you deal with resenting the Army for taking your husband away when you need him? How do you deal with the fear and loneliness? How can I do this Army wife thing successfully?’
I suppose I’m preaching to the choir. After all, this blog functions as somewhat of a mentoring program – so does a bulletin board I post on. And there are books – like Jacey Eckhart’s ‘Homefront Club’ or Hillary Martin’s ‘Solo Ops’ – I love those two books. But it isn’t the same as having a person who you can call, or go to coffee with, or whatever. I wish the Army did had a program, maybe through AFTB classes (which I think need more publicity.) I also wish the Army did a better job reaching out to fiancées – I think if you snub a woman before the marriage, she’s not likely to put on a perky face and start being a joiner when she’s finally ‘official’ and eligible to ‘join’. We just get thrown into this life, a lot of times it is sink-or-swim… and I think we would have happier, more stable families if we had some sort of mentoring program to help ease the transition.
So, in the absence of an official mentoring program… Kudos to us, for being the unofficial one!