MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Seven Marine Attack Squadron 211 spouses gathered at the auto hobby shop at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., July 16, 2010, to learn about vehicle maintenance as the first of several classes aimed to help spouses take care of themselves when their Marines are on deployment.
“It’s to help them feel confident, to handle things when their husbands are gone,” said Sarah Newbold, VMA-211 family readiness advisor.
Schooled by Master Sgt. Tyon Downing, VMA-211 ordnance chief, the spouses spent the afternoon getting a crash course in maintenance basics, such as engine checks and tire changes.
The maintenance class showed that pre-deployment training is more than just the Marine going out to exercises.
The squadron’s move to strengthen spouses’ self-sufficiency while their husbands are on deployments seemed to be a first-time experience for all involved, from spouses who’ve yet to deal with a deployment to seasoned wives and Marines, said Essence Laboy, VMA-211 family readiness officer.
“I’ve never seen this much interaction with spouses and Marines to prep families for deployment,” said Downing. “This is the first time I’ve experienced it. I think it’s a great program. If the Marine’s family is taken care of, the Marine will perform better.”
Even spouses experienced with having their “other halves” overseas saw the program as beneficial.
“It was very scary,” said Patricia Annunziata, VMA-211 spouse, of her first deployment experience. “I didn’t know anything. (The class) was great. It had a lot of great information.”
For first-timers, the class achieved the goal of individual empowerment. “I felt like ‘what am I going to do when my husband is gone?’” said Doorly Winegar, VMA-211 spouse. “But now that I have this knowledge, I feel more empowered to take care of myself. I definitely recommend it.”
The squadron family readiness program is slated to cover topics such as finances, self-defense and CPR first-aid once a month leading up to the squadron’s deployment next year.