MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Spouses from Lifestyles, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills and the Key Volunteer Network along with Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, organized the first L.I.N.K.S. Combined Arms Exercise for an individual unit June 1.They taught military spouses from 3/4 some essential basics of military life.“They’ve married into this military lifestyle and most of them didn’t come from a military background. This is a way to get them to start thinking about how their life has changed and how they need to prepare, especially for a deployment,” said Christina Curtin, L.I.N.K.S. mentor and wife of Staff Sgt. Michael R. Curtin, Headquarters Battalion, MCAGCC.Throughout the day, spouses learned about deployments, leave and earnings statements, moving and how to network with other military spouses. They received the chance to build friendships through team-building exercises, and they received a tour of the base from the back of 7-ton trucks.The CAX gave spouses a small taste of what Marines go through every day with Meals-Ready-to-Eat for lunch, an obstacle course and pugil stick matches.“They have a really tough job, though we might not give them enough credit,” said Mandi Booth, wife of Cpl. Wesley Booth, India Company.This is the first time an individual unit organized and supported a L.I.N.K.S. CAX, said Curtin. The last L.I.N.K.S. CAX in March was a base-wide event.“I’m glad 3/4 decided to this,” said Larry Stratton, Marine Corps Community Services family team building officer. “It’s very motivating for the ladies. After this, they’ll have a better respect for the Marines and what they’re husbands do.”Much of 3/4 consisted of new Marines so their training was focused on getting the new Marines and their spouses ready for an upcoming deployment, said Curtin.“It’s just a whole new unit,” said Curtin. “This is to help build their cohesiveness for their KVN program.“Unit readiness depends on family readiness which depends on individual readiness,” she said. “A Marine can do a better job in Iraq if he doesn’t have to worry about his family back here.”When a service member deploys the spouse needs to be able to take care of the household, so when the service member returns they can come home and be a part of the family without having to worry about problems, said Curtin.“As a spouse you get a lot of stuff thrown at you. The more they get educated, the better their family will be,” said Curtin.Nikki Clark, KVN volunteer with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and wife of Sgt. Mike Clark, Headquarters Company, 1/7, said a positive attitude is necessary to make it as a military spouse. Those who can’t find a positive outlook may find military life difficult. “You have to have a positive attitude all the time and that’s what L.I.N.K.S. is for, to learn to be positive and be supportive,” said Clark. “That’s why the KVN is awesome. The L.I.N.K.S. program is awesome. That’s why everyone should be a part of this.” Clark got involved in the Key Volunteer Network shortly after arriving at the Combat Center. She said being a KVN has helped her get through deployments more easily because it takes her mind off being alone.“My husband said I did a 180 degree turnaround since I got involved in this,” she said. “I get up every day and think, ‘I hope I can help somebody,’ and that helps me get through the deployment,” she said.Many of the spouses said they enjoyed the day and learned quite a bit about military life. “I recommend this to everybody, every new wife, every senior wife, every wife who’s been in the Marine Corps and hasn’t taken L.I.N.K.S. should take it because it teaches you so many things that you did not know about the Marine Corps,” said Julie Bryan, Key Volunteer coordinator and wife of Petty Officer 2nd Class Seth “Doc” Bryan. “Every wife in the Marine Corps and the Navy should do it.”The spouses learned about the Marine Corps, the Navy, the KVN and many other things about the military life to prepare them. Some of them said they felt ready to face a deployment.“It’s all about taking the tears and the bonbons away and giving them positive, pro-active information,” said Curtin.