NEW ORLEANS --
L.I.N.K.S., lifestyles, insights, networking, knowledge, and skills, is an official Marine Corps program that provides Marines and their families with the connections and resources essential to managing life in the Corps.
A volunteer-based program, L.I.N.K.S. provides Marine families with available resources, such as deployment support, information on Marine Corps traditions, career planners and more.
“The L.I.N.K.S. program is designed to support Marines, their family members and their command by informing them of the Marine Corps lifestyle,” said Lisa Brito-Greene, a self-employed consultant who volunteers for the L.I.N.K.S. program. “The program is really beneficial to new, young Marines, and serves as a great reminder to those who’ve been in for a while.”
Program partnerships with services and personnel, including career planners, chaplains, and L.I.N.K.S. mentors, encourage the development of a strong family support system.
“Almost everything in the Marine Corps is about the Marine, and it ought to be,” said Gabriela Swanson, an intern for the United States Army Corps of Engineers who volunteers for L.I.N.K.S. “But a Marine does a lot better, in my opinion, when they have a family that supports them.”
All Marines, and their parents, spouses, and children, are eligible to participate in their local L.I.N.K.S. events, and unit sessions are also available.
Marines and their families often express to L.I.N.K.S. volunteers that they wish they had learned about the program sooner.
“I recently had someone who had been in for almost 30 years, who sat in on his first L.I.N.K.S. session and said he wished he would have come to L.I.N.K.S. when he first got in,” Brito-Greene said.
For families and spouses without prior Marine Corps experience, navigating the world of Marine Corps traditions, rank, benefits, and deployments can be confusing and intimidating.
“I remember how scared my parents were when I became a Marine,” Swanson said. “I remember thinking ‘this program would have been so useful for them to attend so they wouldn’t be afraid, and know what to do while I was deployed.’”
The typical three-day long program for active duty Marines is condensed to approximately four hours for Reserve Marines, allowing it to be completed during a drill weekend.
L.I.N.K.S. coordinators who support Marine Forces Reserve uniquely tailor the course to meet the needs of Reserve Marine families by traveling to Reserve training centers, which are located across the country.
It is also important to the volunteers who are teaching Marines and their families about L.I.N.K.S. to keep the program fun and interactive. Retention of information is made easier for the participants with the inclusion of games and trivia.
“We do it in a fun and interesting way,” Brito-Greene said. “We don’t kill them by PowerPoint. We make it interactive. We play games that talk about the history of the Corps. But, even though we’re doing it in a fun manner, we’re actually learning and discussing things.”
Volunteers reap the rewards of the program just as much as the Marines and their families.
“As a volunteer, there is definitely growth in working and providing for someone else,” Brito-Greene said. “There’s definitely strength in being the one who is providing support and guidance to another individual, but also in helping keep something going that is really beneficial. I would say that the person who is providing some of the support is definitely going to get almost as much out of it as the person they’re supporting. There’s tremendous benefits on both sides.”
L.I.N.K.S. is a useful program ensuring the success of Marines and their families by providing a wealth of information, resources and guidance on living the Marine Corps lifestyle.
For more information on the L.I.N.K.S. program and how to become a volunteer, visit http://www.marforres.marines.mil/General-Special-Staff/Marine-Corps-Community-Services/Family-Team-Building/LINKS/