Story and photo by Rick Emert
Army spouses new to the Mountain Post don’t have to go blindly into their relocation, thanks to an Army Community Service program.
The Carson Cares program, held
the first Thursday of every month at The Family Connection, equips spouses with the tools they need to make a smooth transition into life at Fort Carson, said Niccida Ezell, the Family Connection coordinator who oversees Carson Cares.
“When the Soldiers (inprocess) … they learn all about Fort Carson, and we would give them the welcome packets,” Ezell said. “That was about as far as it went, because the Soldiers were taking the information and not giving it to their wives. We developed Carson Cares as a way for the wives
to get themselves an orientation.”
Representatives from various Fort Carson programs, such as TRICARE, ACS and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, give the spouses information on what the programs have to offer, Ezell said.
“Mainly it is to familiarize them with post,” she said. “We give them maps. We give them a welcome packet that contains: altitude tips, information about the chapels, shopping, coupons and information on where they can take their children on the weekends. Anything that they need, we have it there.”
While the information may be helpful to the spouses, the bonds they form with other spouses may be even more important, Ezell said.
“The spouses of the Soldiers needed a networking center where they could be able to support one another, and that wasn’t there for them,” Ezell said. “The bonds they form in the class … are indispensible. Some of the ladies hit it off right away. It makes such a difference when you are coming in, because a lot of them are finding that their spouses are out of here (deployed) shortly after they get here.”
The bonds and networks formed in the class are even more beneficial to foreign-born spouses, Ezell said.
“We have spouses that get married on the way from Germany … and when they come in they are not only coming into a new lifestyle, they are coming into a new post and new language,” she said. “They need that support. We have a Filipinos support group here, a German support group here that is very, very strong, African-American support group, Native American, Multiple Sclerosis and Spanish support groups. Once they come here to the Family Connection … they know where they can go to find people who speak their language, who can tell them about the transition. They have a network here.”
The one-day class ends with a tour of the post to show spouses where facilities such as Evans Army Community Hospital, the post exchange and the commissary are located, Ezell said.
“(Antonio Gonzalez, tour guide) takes them all around and shows them where the ACS building is, where the commissary is, so the ladies are equipped,” Ezell said. “Once they know, and they have a map, they’re ready to go. They don’t need their husbands to take off from work, because they know where the things are.”
The program was beneficial to
Staff Sgt. Annmatie Rose, Evans Army Community Hospital, who attended the program June 4.
“I really wish they could incorporate this program into the newcomer’s (briefing), because a lot of Soldiers coming in really need this information,” Rose said. “I guess most of the time, the spouses come, but I think the command should encourage the Soldiers to attend.”
Rose said she was looking for programs for her children and for classes on home buying, she said.
“I’m more interested in programs for the children, because they’re home, and he (her husband, Justin) is home,” Rose said. “It gives him the opportunity to get out of the house, because while he’s waiting for an answer (on a job application), he’s cooped up in the house and that is frustrating. With two children it’s hard.”
The purpose of the program is to set spouses up for success in their new hometown, Ezell said.
“Our main goal is to connect the Families one to another as they come into Fort Carson – make sure they have that support, be it multicultural support groups that the wives can come to or the husbands can come to when they first get on post,” Ezell said. “We want to make sure that their transition or relocation is the greatest it has ever been.”