Programs for Senior Spouses Joint - Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army

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Joint Senior Spouse Programs
The Joint Senior Spouse Course is the only senior spouse course regarding leadership, that is jointly conducted, is the 5 day course for spouses of newly promoted general officers, that is held to complement the CAPSTONE course for these generals conducted by the National Defense University at Ft. McNair in Washington, D.C.

Service Schools - Each military service also has schools or courses for the various branches within that service, and some have a few classes, including Army Family Team Building (AFTB), for spouses of those students.

For example, the Infantry, Armor and Field Artillery schools are just a few, for just the Army. At Ft. Rucker there is a course called Spouse Survival School with a handbook for spouses of all those attending Ft. Rucker military schools.

There are also many opportunities for joint spouse leadership information at all the service colleges; because officers of all services attend each other's service colleges in varying percentages (government civilians and international officers also attend).

There are programs at all of these staff and war colleges for attending spouses each year, so spouses accompanying military officers to service schools different from their service, can learn about that respective service's spouse programs. These courses are similar, but are still different from the programs specifically for spouses of commanders. The courses for spouses of commanders are conducted in conjunction with commander's courses that each service conducts.

The Officer Staff Level
The officer staff level service schools with programs specifically for spouses of those attending are:
For example the Army program for the spouses of CGSC students and others on post on a space available basis is Personal Awareness Leadership Seminar (PALS).

There is also a specialized AFTB course, separate from other AFTB courses, conducted just at Ft. Leavenworth called the XO/S3 course for major's and lieutenant colonels' spouses.

Senior Level Service Colleges
Senior level service colleges with varying spouse programs are:
  • The Army War College (AWC) at Carlisle, PA.
    For more than a century, the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) has prepared senior military officers and civilians for strategic-leadership responsibilities. Today we play a major role in developing dedicated, intelligent, and competent men and women who will go on to serve our nation in positions of great responsibility.

  • The National War College.
    NDU, the premier center for joint professional military education, is under the direction of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The University is located at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC.

  • The Industrial College of the Armed Forces (NWC and ICAF) at Ft. McNair, Washington D.C.The Industrial College of the Armed Forces mission is to prepare selected military officers and civilians for senior leadership and success in developing our national security strategy and in evaluating, marshalling, and managing resources in the execution of that strategy.

  • The Marine Corps War College (MCCDC-Marine Corps Combat Development Command).The mission of MCWAR is to educate selected senior officers and civilians for decision-making during war and military operations other than war in a joint, interagency, and multinational environment.

  • The Naval War College (NWC).
    For more than 100 years, the Naval War College has served as the premier center of strategic thought and national security policy innovation for our Navy and our nation.

  • The Air War College (AWC)
    The Air War College is the senior Air Force professional military school with a highly experienced faculty and staff. Annually, we prepare 265 resident and over 6,000 nonresident students from all US military services, federal agencies, and 45 other nations to lead in the strategic environment -- emphasizing joint operations and the employment of air and space power in support of national security.

US Army Programs
More information regarding the following Army listings is available in chapters of the Spouse Battle Book

FAMILY READINESS GROUP LEADER (FRG) - is the unit based or higher level unit oversight structure of the family readiness and assistance, commander program. The FRG leader is appointed by the commander and must have training through the Army Community Service (ACS) facility with the Operation Ready materials.
ARMY FAMILY TEAM BUILDING (AFTB) is the Army wide, three level information program for all spouses and soldiers, with a 4th level for senior spouses. It is conducted in classes at ACS (Army Community Service) facilities and online. It has good material for FRG education.

MY ARMY LIFE TOO.COM - the COMMUNITY and FAMILY SUPPORT CENTER's (CFSC) main website that links a majority of programs that have to do with families and the Army.

BETTER, STRONGER, READY FAMILIES (BSRF) - commander directed program executed by the chaplain, community nurse and AFTB, that is primarily for the first time soldier and spouse as they adapt to Army life. Relationship skills, it is PREP (see below) plus other Army agencies.

COMMAND TEAM SEMINAR (CTS) of PRE-COMMAND COURSE (PCC) is the five day course for battalion and brigade commander's spouses held at Ft. Leavenworth, KS that focuses on both leadership skills and army spouse pertinent information.

Facilitating Leadership and Group Skills" (FLAGS) program. The U.S.Army War College's five day Facilitating, Leadership and Group Skills (FLAGS) Workshop is for senior level spouses of AWC students. The primary goal is to enhance senior military spouses' skills and effectiveness and to prepare them to constructively influence and positively interact within the military communities where they will live and serve.

The second goal is to develop 12 20 AWC students' spouse instructors/trainees for monitored delivery of the FLAGS program to small groups of other spouses at the AWC each academic year. Potentially these trained instructors will independently design and deliver similar FLAGS type instruction appropriate to their spouse's (AWC student's) next senior leadership assignment.

The FLAGS course develops skills in effective leadership styles, meeting management skills, when to talk and when to listen to advice, emphasizing growth in interpersonal skills and the understanding of small group development.

The FLAGS program is an integral part of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Military Family Program (MFP).

Spouse Leadership Course There is a spouse leadership course at the Army's Sergeant Major's Academy, for senior NCO sergeant majors' spouses, and other services offer respective programs for senior NCO spouses.

To keep them straight, it is easier sometimes to think about which programs are for leading the unit based family group, which are information drops and service wide for all spouses, which are personal development and leadership skills based, and which are for commanders' spouses.

usmc-mccs is the home page that links all.

The Marine Corps organizes their spouse and family programs under the heading MCFTB (Marine Corps Family Team Building). The MCFTB title and organization, is an umbrella with programs under it, in contrast with the Army AFTB, which is one separate program, that comes under the umbrella of ACS (Army Community Service).

THE FAMILY READINESS COMMITTEE develops plans, identifies major family readiness issues not resolved at the command level, and advises the Marine Corps Board of Directors, (BOD) who oversees the MARINE CORPS COMMUNITY SERVICE (MCCS).

This BOD was started in 1996 as the top level decision making forum to advise the Marine Corps Commandant on quality of life issues. The Board has members from HQ USMC, commanders of all commands, and subcommittees from KVN and L.I.N.K.S.

The Army's BOD and top level family issues forum, is illustrated in the Spouse Battle Book section on IMA (Installation Management Agency).

The KEY VOLUNTEER NETWORK (KVN) is the unit based family readiness and assistance, commander program. The key volunteer is appointed by the commander, and must have training at the Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) facility through the MCFTB office. The KVN provides the spouses of the unit official communication, information, and referral assistance. Similar to the FRG concept.

LIFESTYLE INSIGHTS, NETWORKING, KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS (L.I.N.K.S.) is a 3 session spouse to spouse orientation for new spouses. Information on Marine Corps life, for all spouses. Similar to AFTB level 1

SPOUSES' LEARNING SERIES (SLS) is a 3 tiered program, series of workshops and online coursework, personal and professional leadership development. For all spouses. Similar to AFTB levels 2, 3, and a few parts of PALS, CTS of PCC, FLAGS

PREVENTION and RELATIONSHIP ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM (PREP) and CHAPLAIN'S RELIGIOUS ENRICHMENT DEVELOPMENT OPERATIONS (CREDO) - relationship skills programs for spouses and soldiers run by MCFTB and chaplains. Similar to Army's BSRF, except BSRF is PREP plus other agencies, and CREDO is retreat oriented.

The MCCDC SPOUSE'S WORKSHOP is the five day leadership course for commander's spouses conducted with the Commander's Course at Quantico, VA, as part of the resident commander's program. Similar to CTS of Pre-Command Course.

LIFElines - LIFElines is the service network providing online resources

The COMMAND OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM - is the unit based, family readiness and assistance, commander program within the Navy. The Ombudsman is appointed by the unit commander, and is a volunteer spouse of an active duty or Reserve member of the command who receives extensive basic and ongoing training at the Fleet and Family Support Centers, (FFSC, formerly called Navy Family Services), conducted by the Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP).

The Commander and XO spouses can not serve as Ombudsman, but can take Ombudsman training courses to learn resources available for their supporting roles. The Ombudsman represents and reports to the Commander, and is a critical conduit between the Commander and family members, and helps family members gain assistance needed from military and civilian agencies.

A feature specific to the Navy's Ombudsman program is their maintenance of 24/7 "care lines" which have recorded messages for unit families. They also support the commander and family members as a conduit to the FFSC by helping sailors and family members access a wide range of FFSP programs focused on adaptation to the special demands of navy family life. Similar to the FRG concept, but the Ombudsman position is more extensive.

COMPASS - is a new and evolving program modeled after the Marine Corps L.I.N.K.S. and the Army's AFTB programs, and is designed for educating new Navy spouses so that they better understand the Navy system.

Spouses are guided through the basics of rate/rank structure, benefits and services, pay and entitlements, relocation and resources. The program is taught by volunteers and sponsored by Naval Services Family Line, a non-profit, volunteer organization serving Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard families throughout the world. Similar to AFTB.

CSLC - is the Command Spouse Leadership Course. It is an intense five day course for Navy spouses of commanding officers en route to their first command, held at Newport, Rhode Island, conducted in conjunction with the Command Leadership Course for officers.

The course provides spouses with an awareness of leadership and management skills, and information on communication links and issues likely to arise in connection with command responsibility. Similar to ARMY's CTS of PCC for commander's spouses

AF Crossroads is the home page that links programs.

KEY SPOUSE PROGRAM - implemented in 1997, is the unit based family readiness and assistance, commander program. A key volunteer spouse in each unit is appointed by the commander to serve as a communication link between the commander, the unit First Sergeant, and unit families, and to provide information and referral services to family members, with assistance from the Family Support Center (FSC). Training for this key spouse is required and conducted at each FSC. Similar to FRG.

AF Senior Spouse leadership training is not held at one location, but consists of annual conferences and short programs offered at every major Command, including the Headquarters for ACC (Air Combat Command), AMC (Air Mobility Command), AETC (Air Education and Training Command) and overseas Command locations.

Information updates and relevant presentations regarding AF family issues occur at annual conferences for Squadron, Group, and Wing commander spouses. A new squadron commander's spouse leadership course was being developed at the time of this printing at the Air University.

This standardized course will hopefully be available by 2006, and will be taught AF wide at major command locations. Further information can also be found at:

  • Key Spouse (
The Senior Spouse Crisis Reference Handbook is available at this address.

550 C St.West, Suite 11
Randolph AFB, Texas

Heart Link Aids Air Force Spouses
The Heart Link Program created by the Air Combat Command Family Matters program in 2002, and now available Air Force-wide, the free program called Heart Link is offered once per quarter to help spouses gain a better understanding of the Air Force and their base through guest speakers, interactive segments, giveaways and briefings.

Childcare and lunch are provided for participants. The orientation closes with a focus on the importance of the Air Force family and a graduation where spouses receive a Heart Link coin from the wing commander.

In addition to providing families with resources on base, Heart Link also provides something else that can be valuable to new spouses – a contact network.