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1st Infantry Division spouses partner in program to help families transition

By THE MANHATTAN MERCURY Published: December 4, 2020

FORT RILEY (Tribune News Service) — The 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley and the School for Command Preparation at Fort Leavenworth on Tuesday launched a pilot program to train command team military spouses in easing transitions for Army families.

Through monthly weeklong courses, which cover Army customs and traditions to managing and advising family support groups, officials said senior leader Army spouses will be better able to convey information to and mentor family members at the company and platoon level.

"It's Army spouses taking care of Army families," said Col. Sophie Gainey, who helped facilitate the program's joint panel discussion. "It definitely supports the Army slogan of 'People first,' taking care of our people and our families."

In a video meeting, senior leader spouses from Fort Riley spoke to Command Team Spouse Development Program students about their experiences using social media and its effects on soldier family readiness groups and families.

Officials said Army families have to navigate several challenges like multiple assignments and deployments and frequent permanent change of station moves, as well as the impacts of the coronavirus. They said being able to effectively communicate through the Army's information networks and platforms is essential.

Family readiness groups made of military spouses and family members are often the ones bridging the communication gaps. They help Army leaders provide information to other family members, answer questions and relay concerns to unit leadership.

"This panel discussion between the spouses of the 1st Infantry Division and the Command Team Spouse Development Program participants was a great opportunity to offer ideas on the most effective ways of using social media to meet a variety of communication goals," said Leah Harris, spouse of 1st Infantry Division Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Harris.

Senior Army leadership, including Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, and Ryan McCarthy, secretary of the Army, recently expressed support for the program, which could potentially be implemented throughout other Army bases.

"Great initiative by the Team down at Fort Riley to provide Army spouses tools for success as they support their Soldier in their next assignment," tweeted Gen. Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff of the Army and a former commander at Fort Riley.

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