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MCFTB changes to fit Marine Corps' needs

By Lance Cpl. M. Daniel Sanchez | | July 27, 2007

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As organizations gain new leaders, they also gain new visions and goals from those leaders. The same holds true for the Marine Corps, specifically for its family readiness and family support programs.

“The dynamics of our families are changing with each passing year and it is those unique changes that demand new methods of reaching out to inform the population of the programs that are available to them free of charge,” said Shannon Lacovara, Marine Corps Family Team Building manager.

The Marine Corps is placing greater emphasis on empowering Marine Corps families and teaching them to adapt to deployment and military lifestyles, said Lacovara.

During a functionality assessment of the Marine Corps’ family support programs in May, field experts of each program from the different Marine Corps installations, as well as program heads, got together to create new ways to help these families, she said.

Even first lady of the Marine Corps, Annette Conway, was present.

Lacovara said she was pleasantly surprised when Conway asked the MCFTB managers and other personnel to develop the programs they felt were needed.

“Who better to ask, than those who work with the volunteers and families and know their needs?,” she said.

They were told to create the programs that will provide the best support regardless of budget limitations.

The personnel at the assessment debated and compromised for hours upon hours until they developed programs they felt would best serve the Marine families.

They proposed programs that would not only provide support to the spouses, but also other members of the family, such as the teenagers of deployed families or parents of single Marines who live in other states, said Lacovara.

Lacovara said the programs would be styled after the Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program, only tweaked to fit the needs of the younger audience, or put online for the parents.

Another proposal was the creation of a new special needs program to provide up to 40 hours a week of care for the special needs children of deployed spouses, she added.

Even the strategy of informing spouses of the L.I.N.K.S. and KVN programs has changed, stated Lacovara.

The new approach is to teach new Marines about the MCFTB programs, who will then speak to the spouses about what is available to them, she said.

“It is difficult to get information about the KVN or L.I.N.K.S. to spouses when Marines don’t know or talk about them,” said Lacovara.

By concentrating on informing more individuals in the Marine family at once, there will be a higher possibility of getting spouses more involved and prepared for Marine Corps life, she said.

Many things are in the works, but they all may not come to fruition this year, she said. Right now, the programs are being funneled down to what is the most practical for the Marine Corps.

However, there have been many steps taken already to implement some of the changes that were discussed to spread awareness of the MCFTB programs, said Lacovara.

Steps such as Yuma’s first Family Readiness Officer L.I.N.K.S. class held here July 19 at the station community center.

And perhaps the most important step was the Town Hall Meeting held here July 11, by Gen. James T. Conway, 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the first lady, said Lacovara.

It was great to have the person who overseas the Marine Corps take interest in the opinions of the families, said Deana Salter, Marine spouse and key volunteer for Marine Attack Squadron 211.

Sometimes, even the Marines don’t have the answers, she said. So informing the whole family on what is available to them will at least give them a place to find those answers.

With all the things military families go through, it is just comforting to know the Marine Corps is looking out for them, said Salter.


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