MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marine Corps Family Team Building recently initiated a new program for military children called L.I.N.K.S. for Kid’s, a new extension of the L.I.N.K.S. program that was originally only for military spouses.
L.I.N.K.S., which stands for Lifestyles, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills, is a program that was started by a group of military spouses at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., in 1996, said Amber Bilderain, L.I.N.K.S. trainer.
This was the first L.I.N.K.S. for Kid’s session and marks the beginning of an entirely new series of L.I.N.K.S. programs aimed not only at spouses, but also at children, parents of service members and service members themselves, said Bilderain.
“The L.I.N.K.S. sessions are used to provide family readiness at all levels of the family,” said Bilderain, an Albuquerque, N.M., native. “We are looking at the whole family picture now, and not just the spouses.”
During the session, L.I.N.K.S. volunteers and MCFTB staff discussed a variety of topics familiar to military families, such as frequent moves, making new friends, deployments, involvement in the community, recreation activities, internet safety and patriotism.
“I learned that Marines learn that all other Marines are brothers,” said Josiah Hall, 9-year-old son of Amy and Lt. Col. Richard D. Hall, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “There are also sisters in the Marines.”
Between sessions, children were permitted several snack breaks and group time with other children.
Children were also taught the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis”, the Marine’s Hymn, the phonetic alphabet and the golden rule of treating others the way you’d like to be treated.
Perry Ford, Marine Corps Family Team Building director, said he is seeing more participation from family members of units who offered limited involvement in the past.
“The L.I.N.K.S. for Kid’s is such a good idea because it allows the kids to feel like they are part of the situation,” said Ford, a Houston native. “We help them put into perspective all the places they’ve been and all the things they’ve done.”
L.I.N.K.S., L.I.N.K.S. for Kid’s L.I.N.K.S. for Teens and Parent’s L.I.N.K.S. work to educate family members on the family they were born, sworn or married into, said Katrina Pride, L.I.N.K.S. mentor. The L.I.N.K.S. for Marines works in a similar way, only reversed.
“The L.I.N.K.S. for Marines can really help a Marine related to the spouse and kids,” said Pride. “It would really help them see what families go through.”
Dan Cole, Life Skills trainer, is a retired chief warrant officer 4 and said even he learned from L.I.N.K.S. sessions.
“I was in the Marine Corps for 24 years, and when I went to L.I.N.K.S., I actually learned things about the Corps I didn’t know,” said Cole, a New Orleans native.
At the closing of the last L.I.N.K.S. for Kid’s session, children stood on a stool in front of the room and gave a speech about what they think of their family and the military.
Hall stood on the stool and set up a folding table in front of him like a podium.
“Marines do all kinds of things to help people,” said Hall. “My dad is doing stuff like helping children, building wells and fighting the Taliban. Liberty is very valuable, and we need to keep it strong.”
The next L.I.N.K.S. for Kid’s is scheduled for Nov. 5 and 6, said Bilderain.
To learn more about L.I.N.K.S. sessions available on base, call (760) 830-1696.