Harry Sarles | Army University Public Affairs
In-person pre-command and command team spouses’ courses restarted Jan. 25 at Fort Leavenworth. Classes in the fall moved to virtual venues as part of the Army’s efforts to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus. With prevention protocols and testing in place, the courses restarted.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville spoke to Brigade and Battalion Pre-Command Classes and the Command Team Spouse Classes Jan. 26 at the Lewis and Clark Center. Army University’s School for Command Preparation is conducting the pre-command classes in person and conducting the spouse classes in a hybrid configuration with approximately 25 spouses attending the course in person and about 80 spouses attending virtually.
The hybrid solution allows spouses who may not have been able to attend the course in person to take part in the training.
“It’s great. There are 60 plus people on-line, their comments and their discussions are being seen,” said one participant.
Marie Ceja, whose husband Jesse is taking battalion command at Fort Dix, N.J., said that the students taking the course virtually have been able to interact with the students at Fort Leavenworth and with presenters in a real-time manner and make valuable contributions to the class.
Following the chief of staff’s presentation, his spouse, Maria McConville, spoke to the spouses’ course via computer link. She reinforced her husband’s focus on “people first,” reminding the attendees that they are informal leaders in their spouses’ units and that because of their positions they have a voice they can use to help others.
Maria McConville spoke of her experiences being the spouse of a battalion, brigade and senior commander while pursuing a career of her own. She also encouraged the class to manage their energy wisely, be as positive as possible, live their lives authentically, and to try to be “the lift” for others.
Ceja said the spouses’ course helps her to get to know a community of people who are facing the same challenges.
“You can help each other, get ideas, and brainstorm together,” she said. “Listening to the stories from spouses who have already been there has been invaluable.”
Lt. Col. James Leitenberg, 1st Cavalry Division G-2, is attending the course in his role as a senior spouse. His wife recently took battalion command at Fort Hood, Texas.
“I like the way that this course presents the role of senior spouses,” Leitenberg said.
“With a world where most people are in relationships where both professionals are serving in different career paths yet still have families, this is an opportunity for me to be an example for others that are dual professionals,” he said.
Leitenberg said that although the military has used the term dual-military for some time, the idea of dual Army spouses hasn’t been fully explored.
“Both of us have a unique role to support one another and our family,” he said.
Leitenberg and Ceja agreed the spouses’ course has been a valuable experience in preparing to be the spouse of a battalion commander. They encourage spouses to attend the course either virtually or in person.