A person who enlists in the United States Military has a number of different training programs that they participate in, from boot camp to technical school, and a large number of other briefings and teaching opportunities. For a Servicemember that type of participation teaches and indoctrinates them into enlisted life. For a spouse, in the past it has been difficult to pick up on all the different information, traditions and information that is necessary for enlisted life. That is slowly changing in a positive manner. The Marine Corps and Navy both have programs that assist and support Servicemember spouses and in some cases family members.
The programs are called Links (Marine Corps) and Compass (for the Navy Program. Each uses a fairly routine concept; using group instruction and one on one pairing of new Servicemember wives with older more experienced Servicemember wives. This pairing is a productive method of helping families become used to the military way of life. It teaches basics of military tradition, history, customs as well as a number of important issues that military families deal with on a routine or daily basis. The Navy Compass group is solely created to serve Spouses of any Servicemember with understanding and dealing with military life. Spouses of Servicemembers learn about basic rank and rate structures, the basics of entitlements, pay and other benefits are also examined. The approach that Compass uses is a slow exposure in a comfortable atmosphere to help them learn about military life.
Spouse to spouse support is vital to help the new Servicemember spouse adjust. The course is normally a 12-hour program, delivered in sections of about 4 hours apiece. The course tends to be well received, and is conducted over 3 or more days. The course is taught by volunteers and normally held on a continuing basis at Navy bases and installations worldwide.
Course publications and materials have become standard and now represent a number of successful programs that have taken place in the past. They support concepts of interpersonal relationships, military history, US Navy customs, and give the new Navy spouse a chance to pick up tips and valuable assistance in a relaxed and safe atmosphere. The group sessions are set up to allow new Servicemembers to ask whatever questions they may have, and to feel relaxed enough to be able to ask these questions.