Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Navy Wives Learn Ropes; Compass Program at Mayport Teaches Them the System

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Navy Wives Learn Ropes; Compass Program at Mayport Teaches Them the System

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY PIATT

You'd think that after 10 years as Navy wife, Diedra Lazard would know how to handle the stress of moving to a new duty station every three years or how to manage the home front while her husband is deployed or how to read her spouse's pay stub.

But even after several years of marriage, many spouses still find the Navy hard to understand. To them it is like a foreign land with its own customs, language and procedures set apart from the civilian world.

So last week, Lazard and a dozen other Navy wives attended a free mentoring program at Mayport Naval Station that is new to Jacksonville. Appropriately called Compass, the program teaches spouses how to navigate the challenges of the Navy lifestyle. It also provides background on the Navy's mission and history.

"I wish they had this in the beginning," Lazard said after one of the classes. "The class showed me things that I should have known when he got into the Navy."

Navy spouses developed their own program several years ago after learning that for several years the Marine Corps offered a similar program. The Mayport team is the 14th program established at Navy bases worldwide, organizers said. The only other one in the region is at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Ga.

Taught by spouses, the program stresses the need to communicate with each other, with their spouse's command and with Navy programs focused on the family. It also encourages them to volunteer in the community and helps them cope with depending on others in the community when their partner is deployed. There is no rank among the participants.

In a military family, once a sailor or soldier deploys, the spouse assumes all of the household duties.

That's why there is a need to understand how the system works, said Kristi Chiaravallotti, a mentor and one of the organizers of the Mayport class. The wife must also know how to interact with her husband when he comes home, she said.

Understanding the Navy's jargon and acronyms will be helpful, she said. She opened the course by presenting an example that contained Navy jargon and provided an interpretation. …

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