The Army Community Services have revamped one of its programs intended to help integrate military spouses into their new surroundings and the military way of life. The Army Family Team Building Program led by program manager, Anna Maria Vestal, now incorporates courses on resiliency and professional skills.
Vestal said they started teaching with the new curriculum last year. The program has been around since 1994 and not until recently have the courses changed due to the requests they were receiving from the community. Vestal said people were asking how the program can directly benefit them outside of integration.
“The whole program is meant to take someone from being new in the military and building them all the way to being self confident, self reliant, and being able to connect and lead others,” Vestal said.
The curriculum is broken down into three different levels; military knowledge, personal growth and resiliency, and leadership development. The military knowledge level is just that, it allows individuals to get oriented into the military way of life. The personal growth and resiliency level focuses on individual growth which includes learning how to cope. The goal of the last level, leadership development, is to teach individuals to become effective leaders. Each level has at least 10 courses to offer. The courses can be taken in any order based on interest.
Military spouse, Paola Virgillito-Appleton who is originally from Italy and came to WSMR after being stationed in Germany, said the courses helped her gain knowledge she didn’t have before. Virgillito-Appleton said she took both military knowledge and personal growth and resiliency courses and found the Chain of Command course to be most helpful. After taking the courses she began volunteering at ACS and became a regular volunteer for a year. She also successfully completed her GED. Currently, she is working on her resume and listing the AFTB courses and her volunteer work as some of her qualifications.
“They’re very helpful and they helped give me confidence. I would highly recommend it,” Virgillito-Appleton said. “I actually tell people, ‘hey you should take this class.”
Courses are also available for community members who wish to volunteer to teach one of the courses in the program. Vestal said that though the courses are intended for military spouses, she can work with a directorate or a supervisor to be able to tailor a curriculum to their needs. Contractors are also welcome to take AFTB courses that are offered and free childcare is provided for eligible families. The next set of courses will be offered at the end of January and will be advertised in all venues.