by Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
4-25th ABCT Public Affairs
7/23/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Army spouses with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, experienced a rigorous day of paratrooper training July 14 at JBER, which helped create new relationships and strengthened bonds within the unit's family readiness group.
Working together, 80 spouses finished each challenge and along the way they learned a little more about what their Soldiers go through on a daily basis.
The event, called G.I. Jane Day, started off with a crisp morning run - a 0.7 mile-cadence-called gallop around Headquarters Loop.
After a quick cool down and stretch, they were off on a two-mile road march wearing backpacks and assault packs of Army gear.
They arrived at the Airborne Sustainment Training Area and with no time to rest, loaded onto Army tactical vehicles and headed to the next stop on the day's busy training schedule, the obstacle course.
After a lunch of Meals-Ready-to-Eat in the field, the spouses moved to the firing range to try their hands at some of the brigade's weapons, shooting at 25 meter paper targets.
A range safety Soldier was assigned to each firer.
The final challenge of the day was a jump off the 34-foot tower at the Airborne Sustainment Training Area.
Qualified jumpmasters briefed the spouses, taught them how to suit up in the harness and properly and safely exit the tower.
After a safety inspection, each spouse took a leap of faith and jumped out of the tower. Some needed a little extra time at the top to collect their thoughts and tame their fears, but everybody who walked up the tower jumped out.
Some screamed and hollered, and others just enjoyed the scenery as they rode the zip-line to the bottom where paratroopers gathered them up and unhooked them.
All participants received certificates of completion for the day's events.
"I really, really enjoyed the event," said Erin K. Shustack, whose husband is assigned to the 4-25's Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "I thought there was a lot of camaraderie among the girls. I got to meet a lot of new faces."
Shustack said the training pushed her to the limit because it wasn't something she would normally do.
"It brought out a little bit of courage in me, so I really liked that," she said.
Shustack said the day's training gave her a new appreciation for the things her husband does.
"It really should make you think about how special they are and what they do for us," she said of the Soldiers, "and what they do for our country."
Lisa A. Williams, family readiness support assistant for the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, said the event helps build strong families and morale because the spouses get to endure some of the things that their Soldiers endure.
Bonds are made when spouses get to do things together, according to Williams.
Coordination and execution of the event was a post-wide, collective effort, said the noncommissioned officer in charge of the event, Sgt. 1st Class Virgil G. Allen, the brigade's rear detachment operations sergeant major.
All of the battalions within the brigade chipped in and manned the event with more than 100 Soldiers.
"The Central Issue Facility helped by allowing us to sign out Advanced Combat Helmets needed for the training," said Allen. "The military police and security forces helped with securing the range, and the Alaska National Guard helped out with coordinating the use of the obstacle course."
The U.S. Army Alaska staff helped to secure the ammunition for the firing range and coordinated use of the jump towers, Allen said.
Christie A. Apland, family readiness support assistant for the 4-25th described the event as a success.