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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Spouses volunteer time to help others

By Sgt. Phuong Chau | | February 12, 2003

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Military families are often subjected to long separations from their active-duty sponsors during times of war, natural disasters and national crisis.

To equip spouses with the information they need for these situations, members of the MCLB Albany community are standing up the local Key Volunteer Network here. This Corps-wide program is a communication network that keeps families informed about the things that affect their active duty Marine spouses.

"It is important that we have something established to help families cope with situations that arise," said Gail Kramlich, a network advisor. "This system is in place to take care of our families."

According to the program's web site, the network serves as an integral part of the commanders' Family Readiness Program and is the communication link between the commanders and the unit's families.

The Key Volunteer Network provides the families at MCLB Albany with the information, referral services, and support they need to cope with the realities of a their active-duty spouses or family members who have deployed or who are preparing for deployment.

For example, a Marine is deployed to another country during a conflict.

The Marine's spouse may not know where he or she can turn for information about that Marine.

The spouse may need information on medical benefits, legal issues or family emergencies.

With the Key Volunteer Network, the spouse can go to a volunteer, who has up-to-date information or who can point them to the subject matter expert who has, said Karen Hanovich, key volunteer here who has been part of the program in places such as Okinawa, Japan, and Yuma, Ariz., before the program had its current name.

"It is an opportunity to help other spouses," said Hanovich. "I truly believe that we go through things in life so we will be able to help others. You have no control over dealing with things such as your husband being deployed, but can be part of a support system."

The program puts all volunteers through standardized training to ensure they will not need retraining when they change duty stations. The standardization keeps all Key Volunteer Programs throughout the Corps on the same level.

According to Kramlich, the base community wants to get every family involved with the network. Network personnel are especially looking for people to become key volunteers who can help contact families when events warrant their being contacted. But, she wants everyone to be part of the network.

The network helps make everyone feel part of the base community and lets them know help is available if they need it, said Kramlich.

The program has taught spouses things such as deciphering the data on a Leave and Earnings Statement, understanding rank insignia and tracking other military information, said Charlene Baggs, Key Volunteer Program coordinator.

"We are here so you can learn about your base community and how to take care of business when your spouse is gone," said Baggs.

Kramlich said that some spouses for whom MCLB Albany is their first duty station might not know about the program's existence and benefits. She invites them to look into the Key Volunteer Network.

?It is important to me and to my husband (Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich Commander, Marine Corps Logistics Bases)for everyone to feel they are part of this community, that they are valued and that we are here to help," said Kramlich, who has been part of the program for 10 years, including counterpart networks at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and others during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Kramlich said a spouse is often unaware of what is really going on with their Marine sponsors. Being able to help other Marine families is one of the fulfilling benefits of being part of this program.

For more information on the Key Volunteer Network, call Family Readiness officer 2nd Lt. Kimberly Verhegge, at 639-5101, or Charlene Baggs, Key Volunteer coordinator, at 439-2297.

For more information on deployment readiness, spouses can log onto http://www.military.com/deployment?ESRC=mr.nl.

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