Since 1965

Years ago, when some in the Navy still believed the old saying about issuing wives in sea bags, a group of Navy wives found themselves in a unique situation to not only help the Navy solve a problem, but to change it’s culture in the process.

It was 1965 and the Navy was struggling with an alarmingly low retention rate. Concerned, Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Paul Nitze, made an unprecedented request and invited feedback from sailors and their wives. The feedback he received proved to be invaluable, particularly from the wives who had a better understanding of the hardships within their community that might influence a sailor’s decision to “Stay Navy.”

Two young wives, Mrs. Sandy Nygaard and Mrs. Diane Leventhal, believed the retention issue was due to unhappy wives who felt alone and forgotten. These unhappy wives who were often left to handle family problems without guidance or resources didn’t know enough about the Navy or the services available to them. These unhappy wives weren’t made to feel part of a “team” in their service and sacrifice to their country and worst of all, they didn’t understand the Navy’s mission or the important role their husband’s played in the defense of our country.

Mrs. Nygaard and Mrs. Leventhal were asked to present their ideas and suggestions to the Advisory Retention Board, chaired by Rear Admiral Alford. They then went on to connect with other senior officer and enlisted wives in the Washington area, and began planning ways to change the culture of the Navy that had caused so many wives to feel isolated and unwelcome. With the support of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral McDonald, and encouragement from Admiral and Mrs. Burke, Admiral Smedberg, Admiral Duncan, and many others in senior leadership positions, the Navy Wifeline Association was born.

Known today as Naval Services FamilyLine, the commitment to our sea service families is the same, if not stronger. Today we ship thousands of publications written by volunteers who wish to pass along their “lessons learned” and make this military journey a little easier for their fellow spouses. We mentor new spouses through our COMPASS program and new CO and CMC spouses at the Spouse Leadership Course in Newport, RI. We also provide materials through our CORE Library to allow spouses to continue learning through workshops, seminars, and classes.