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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
Compass guides Navy spouses; Program provides support, training for spouses new to military culture;;

By Lance Cpl. Brian Kester | | May 28, 2004

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- If acclimatizing to the military seemed a bit hard during recruit training, imagine what that transition can be like for a spouse. A new way of life, and new surroundings, can be a difficult transition without a support system.

That is why the Compass program is offering classes for Tri-Command Navy spouses from 6 - 9 p.m. at the Depot Religious Ministries Center June 8 - 10.

The 12-hour course, dubbed Navy Spouse 101, is a comprehensive study of the Navy lifestyle. Covering topics such as the Navy mission, history, customs and traditions; rights and benefits; pay; and deployments and moving, the program provides insight and mentoring to Navy spouses. It also provides some direction to those already accustomed to the lifestyle but new to the area.

"The program is aimed at the new Navy spouse, although any Navy spouse is welcome to enroll," said Minette Van Dermark, Compass Beaufort team leader. "This should make their lives a lot easier. They won't have to go to 50 different places to get the answers; they can come to this class."

The program thrives on its ability to do research for the spouses, so their new lives can be as rewarding as possible.

"This should make the Navy spouses more confident in their ability to handle different situations with deployment, finances and moving," said Kathy Brown, an on-installation trainer for Lowcountry Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge, and Skills (L.I.N.K.S.) and a former Compass mentor. "Knowledge is half of the battle. Once you give them the information, they can do with it as they choose."

Compass has been providing information since 1998, and has been dispersing information in the Beaufort area since 2003. Taking their cues from the Marine Corps L.I.N.K.S. program, the Compass mentors are striving to have a successful independent program.

"The Compass program models itself after the L.I.N.K.S. program," said Van Dermark, a 12-year Navy spouse who only just became aware of the program since coming to Beaufort.

To promote the support and mentorship the program exemplifies, the classes are free and free childcare is provided.

"Some Navy spouses would not take L.I.N.K.S., because it is a Marine Corps program," said Kim Johnson, a Compass advisor and an on-installation trainer for L.I.N.K.S.
"L.I.N.K.S. volunteers got involved because we knew how much time was occupied, and we wanted to be able to foster that as much as we could so people weren't being left out."

The establishment of the program here mirrors the growth of the Compass program worldwide.

"There are 12 locations where this program is available," said Van Dermark. "When you marry into the military, it is a different world. It is kind of like going overseas; they have different terminologies, customs and traditions, and that is what this class is about."

"It is kind of like an informational boot camp for spouses," Van Dermark added.

The program is somewhat new to the Navy and the area. Word of mouth can get more people involved, and having the number of mentors grow will only feed the program and its success, said Brown.

For more information, call Van Dermark at 228-7362 or e-mail

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