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Get R.E.A.L.: Program eases transition into military life for spouses

Rick Kohl, Army Family Team Building coordinator, talks to a Get R.E.A.L. class about Army Aviation-specific terms they might hear around Fort Rucker. (Photo by Jay Mann)

Rick Kohl, Army Family Team Building coordinator, talks to a Get R.E.A.L. class about Army Aviation-specific terms they might hear around Fort Rucker. (Photo by Jay Mann)

Published: September 25, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 25, 2014) -- Adapting to change can be tough, but one Fort Rucker program is helping to ease the transition into the military life for Families.

The Get R.E.A.L. program, or Rucker Experience Army Learning, is a program that gets spouses that are new to Army life together with more experienced spouses who explain and answer questions about the Army culture.

“Entering the military as a spouse is like entering a new world, there is so much you do not know,” said Amanda McKinstry, Get R.E.A.L. Instructor, “Get R.E.A.L. is like Army Family Team Building Level I – it introduces spouses into the military life on Fort Rucker.”

Rick Kohl, Army Family Team Building coordinator, added, “It is specifically targeted to the Aviation culture and understanding the Army Aviation life.”

He said the class teaches not only rank structure, military time, and military customs and courtesies, but also the different types of helicopters on Fort Rucker, Army Aviation acronyms, why reveille and retreat are played, and many more details about how the Army and Army Aviation culture is maintained through traditions.

“This helps the spouse to understand not only the basics of Army culture, but how their Soldier lives within the structure of the Army life,” he said.

“Although there is a lot of information and classes online, it is hard to feel the emotional connection you get from sitting down face-to-face with someone who is sharing their knowledge with you,” said Kohl. “These instructors have 20-plus years of experience in the military system, and the classes are a way for people to feel safe and comfortable as they learn and make contacts in the community.”

“The class is not only for spouses,” added McKinstry. “Grandparents and other Family members attend the classes.”

Shelle Altieri, Get R.E.A.L. instructor, said, “Even if you have been a military spouse for a while, but are new to Fort Rucker or were not involved before, you are welcome to come learn with us at Get R.E.A.L. classes. Probably our biggest role is to make sure people have resources and networks so that they know where to go to get information.

“We see spouses from other nationalities, other services and civilians joining our Fort Rucker community,” she added. “Everyone is welcome to join our classes. After attending classes, we hope that there is improved communication between spouses and their Soldiers. It helps to be able to speak the Army language.”

Class size ranges from si to nine people for most classes, said Altieri.

“We know Army Families are busy – last-minute things happen, kids get sick, units need things – so the class size varies from class to class.”

Advanced registration is required to attend Get R.E.A.L. For more information or to register, call Army Community Service at 255-9637.

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