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Danny Cole, a life skills trainer gives a class during the new L.I.N.K.S. program for Marines. The new program is offered at the Combat Center’s L.I.N.K.S. center and is given for a Marine to help out their families.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Nerl

New L.I.N.K.S. training turns things around

19 Sep 2008 | Lance Cpl. Michael Nerl

The Lifestyle Insights Networking Knowledge Skills program, normally offered to families of Marines, is now offered to Marines to learn about how their career, deployments and changes affect not only them but their families.

L.I.N.K.S. is normally offered to spouses to learn more about the military in general, but specifically the Marine Corps. It changed to help Marines and families better understand and cope with changes posed with a Marine’s career, said Amber Bilderain, a L.I.N.K.S. trainer and a native of Albuquerque, N.M.

“This class is a modified version given to Marines,” said Bilderain. “It answers questions on specific things only a Marine would really know about, but also covers information they do not ask about the majority of the time.  It offers another perspective on all of the issues a military family faces.”

Bilderain said the new version was given to the L.I.N.K.S. team from Headquarters Marine Corps and they started teaching it at the Combat Center Sept. 12. Bilderain provided instruction during multiple areas of the class, citing her experience as a former Marine.

“One of the biggest hassles for a family in the Marine Corps is changing duty station. Moving is a big hassle,” said Bilderain.  “The Marine Corps helps you with your PCS [permanent change of station], moving into housing if you’re leaving the barracks, and EAS [end of active service] moves.”

Different periods of instruction were provided from several different people.  Some, like Bilderain are former Marines and some are family members of Marines.

Classes were provided on handling a deployment from a Marine coping with it and helping their family get through it.

“Family readiness for a deployment is one of the most crucial things a Marine has to deal with,” said Denise Cullum, 7th Marine Regiment family readiness officer and a native of Buffalo, N.Y.  “People, particularly spouses and children, have cycles of emotions they must deal with when a loved one is gone for an extended period of time.  It affects the families of unmarried Marines, mothers also feel anxiety and worry for their sons or daughters when they are deployed.”

One important thing all Marines should remember, regardless of whether or not you’re going to stay in, is that you should ‘stay Marine,’” said Danny Cole, a LifeSkills trainer and a native of New Orleans. 

“I decided to make a career out of being a Marine,” said Cole.  “That may not be everyone’s decision, but it was mine, and I can show you how to make it work for yourself.”

The key is to have a plan and stick to it, Cole said. 

“There are many different paths you can take in the Marine Corps,” said Cole.  “You should make a career path and stick to it.  But we all know, things change quite often however,  there are many ways the Marine Corps can benefit you.  You could finish your college [education] while you’re in and either obtain a commission, or bebetter prepared for life in the outside world.”

In addition to being prepared to follow your own path, be prepared for your plans to change, said Cole.

“You can’t let negative things slow you down,” he said.  “I, myself, have had career changes, some seem like a bad thing at the time, but you have to remember that you can make things work if you apply yourself properly.  All a Marine has to do is put their best efforts toward something and they will get positive results.”

He added that most importantly, whatever decision you make, make sure you and your family know how it impacts their lives.

The L.I.N.K.S. for Marines program is primarily for Marines who are curious about how deployments will affect them and their families, and so they can better understand the administrative aspects of the Marine Corps.


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