MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program, or L.I.N.K.S., is celebrating its 10th year of operation in September here, while continuing to support service members’ families by offering educational sessions and events.
L.I.N.K.S. is funded through Marine Corps Family Team Building, and its educational curriculum is provided by Headquarters Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. The volunteer-driven program is run by military spouses who are all previous class participants.
“The volunteers are the most important part of why the program is so successful at equipping and empowering spouses,” said Elaina Avalos, the L.I.N.K.S administrator here. “Spouses are taught and mentored by other spouses who understand what it means to be the wife of a Marine or sailor.”
The first L.I.N.K.S. pilot programs launched in 1997 and subsequently spread to 15 Marine Corps installations. The program empowers military spouses to successfully meet the challenges of military life.
“The L.I.N.K.S. program started as a once-a-year meeting,” said Laura, a Marine Corps wife of 12 years and L.I.N.K.S. mentor of eight years. “We thought it was a good idea to pass down knowledge about the Marine Corps to new spouses.”
Avalos described some of the ways the program is made available to spouses interested in participating.
“L.I.N.K.S. relies on several methods for getting the word out to spouses,” Avalos said. “Word of mouth, base events and individual units are some of the ways L.I.N.K.S. is promoted. Direct contact with L.I.N.K.S. volunteers or staff is a particularly important means of promotion, because it gives spouses personal contact, which is a hallmark of the home-like atmosphere L.I.N.K.S. strives for.”
Classes run all year with weekday, evening and weekend sessions. Mentors also schedule classes around busy spouses and families with children and provide refreshments at every session.
Laura mentioned a key goal for mentors who stay involved with the program is helping spouses do more than just get by.
“We help spouses by teaching them to not just survive where they are stationed, but bloom where they are planted,” Laura said.
Avalos gave credit to the mentors, who are the driving force behind the program’s success.
“The mentors and volunteers are absolutely amazing, and I'm extremely impressed not only by the time they invest, but because of the amount of effort they put into making L.I.N.K.S. at Camp Lejeune and New River
successful,” Avalos said.
L.I.N.K.S information is available online athttp://www.usmc-mccs.org/links.