MilSpouse Geek Out! Behind the Scenes at the National Memorial Day Concert

You know what I love about military life? I love that I can walk into a room with spouses I’ve never met, from every branch of service, and leave that room with brand new friends. 

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It happened again yesterday. I received an invite to rehearsals for the National Memorial Day Concert—an amazing opportunity! I’d see the show before the rest of the country, and even have a chance to talk to the talent if I got really lucky. 

I was the first spouse to arrive  (as always- color me anxious, but I can’t stand to be late!) so I channeled all the confidence I could, and walked right in. For the first hour, I sat in the front row as Gary Sinise and Joe Montega rehearsed, sat in the row with me, lost their cell phones, and otherwise proved they are normal people just like me (hey, People Magazine dedicates an entire spread to proving this, so I can’t be alone in my delusional idol worship). 

Before long, other spouses began arriving. There were a couple Army wives, a Navy spouse, a Marine Corps spouse, and me, the lone Air Force wife. We immediately began bonding over our shared experiences, and started nerding out about the day and the performers in front of us.

This concert is a Memorial Day service intended to remind Americans of the sacrifice of our service members lost at war. It didn’t take long for stories of deployments and heartache to start pouring out of the women I was with. We sat together and listened to Trace Adkins sing “Arlington.” Other than the production crew, it was just us, the empty lawn of the Capitol, and Arlington off in the distance. 

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I am not from DC. I was not raised as a military brat.  I am not a Gold Star Wife. But I am a military spouse, and as I sat there with these women I barely knew, I realized how lucky I am to count them as my sisters in the journey. One of them turned to me and told me how this song reminds her of just how fragile life can be, and how fortunate we are to have our spouses safe and sound today. 

As the performers came off stage, they made time to stop and speak with us.

Mike Love of the Beach Boys told us about the bracelet he never takes off- a bracelet given to him by a Vietnam veteran who told him their music got him through the war. 

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Trace Adkins explained that he doesn’t perform “Arlington” to just any crowd. That song is sacred. He treats it with the “upmost reverence” because it’s the story of someone’s son- a young man who grew up to be a Marine like his father, and grandfather before him. That Marine is now in Arlington. 

In the Memorial Day production, Epatha Merkerson will tell the story of a Gold Star mom. With tears streaming down her face, she told us today was the first day that she has been to Arlington Cemetery, and seeing the families reminded her of just how important this occasion is. 

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Alfie Boe, a Broadway star spoke to us longest. He looked us each in the eye, and shook our hands like we had all been friends for years. He explained that this experience opened his eyes to what military families go through. “Not just the service men but the wives and the husbands of those people. It’s not just the service members who have to have courage and strength. Their wives and husbands are strong and courageous too. My heart goes out to them”

Memorial Day is a hard day for many of us. It’s easy to feel like the rest of the world just doesn’t get it. Radio ads promote “THE BIGGEST SALE EVER” while our friends, brothers and sisters gather in cemeteries to mourn their dead. It’s easy to feel so alone in our grief and sadness. 

Tonight’s Memorial Day Concert is a way to bring the nation together. Every performer I spoke with is here for all the right reasons. They get it. And tonight, when the concert airs on PBS, the nation will gather around their TVs and they will take a moment to mourn with us. 

We are not alone.

Tune in tonight at 8pm EST. Together we’re stronger. 

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HeatherPosted by Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

What is a Life Coach? And Do I Need One?

No one knows how to roll with the unexpected better than a military family. Whether it’s a sudden change of duty station, or a last-minute deployment, steady upheaval is just a given. The trouble is, some military spouses get so good at coping with change and supporting the family that they lose sight of caring for themselves.

That’s where life coaching can be helpful. Maybe you long to start your own business, or you’re demoralized by a stubborn weight problem. Perhaps you want to improve your relationship with your spouse, but can’t quite break old habits, or are recently divorced and baffled by the prospect of dating again. There are life coaches who specialize in these areas and more. And just like an athletic coach, they help you see where you’re stuck and find the resources and behaviors to help you move forward. And, even though your official status may be “dependent,” you can’t count on anyone but yourself to make your dreams come true.

So, what is this ‘life coaching’ thing?

Let’s start with what life coaching isn’t. Coaching is not counseling, therapy, nor psychoanalysis. There is absolutely a place and time for these critical services, but not in coaching. In very simplified and broad terms, therapy tends to look into your past for causes of certain behavior and reactions; then helps you process, so issues from your past don’t hold you back.

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Coaching is focused on helping you create the future you want. Coaching will help you articulate your goals and dreams, create a plan for attaining those goals, and finally, support your steps to achieve them.

Your coach will help you move past all the “Yeah, but…” circumstances. It’s difficult to build a career when you move every three years, or to build up a social life in the revolving door of a military post. It’s tough to make significant health changes when you spend much of your time as a (more or less) single parent.

But just as your coach will be familiar with those challenges, they’ll also help you better tap into the rich, deep assets your military connections provide, from available tuition benefits to internships. And they’ll help you discover more about the possibilities waiting for you in the transition back to civilian life, from creating a feeling of community in a new long-term home, finally being able to launch the business you’re dreamed of, to helping your kids get settled.

You might be thinking, Why should I hire a coach to help me figure this stuff out? Shouldn’t adults be able to work things out on their own, to do their own thinking and problem-solving? Why can’t I just talk to my spouse, partner, or friend?

The problem is we often are so close to our situation, we can’t see what’s in our way—that’s how ‘blind spots’ got their name. Our friends, partners, and spouses are often all too willing to tell us what they think we should do. Sometimes, this advice is colored by what they want, not what’s best for us.

A coach will listen to you without judgement–as a sounding board. They won’t tell you what to do, but rather will help you discover for yourself the choices that best align to you and your dreams. When you make decisions that are aligned to your purpose and your goals, you are more apt to attain your goals and build new, lasting habits.

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Sound interesting? Let me tell you how to find a coach that fits you. There are many good industry organizations, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), or the National Career Development Association (NCDA) that govern, guide, and credential the professional competency, proficiency, and ethical practices of coaches. When choosing a coach, you should look for reputable credentials so you know you are working with a dedicated professional.

Within our coaching program at Life Reimagined, we vet all of our coaches and only accept credentialed coaches with five or more years of experience. Today, we have 19 coaches with a broad range of experience and specialties, including working with the challenges facing military spouses and families. Coaching with the support of a guided program, such as Life Reimagined, can be an affordable, approachable, and effective way to get connected to your purpose, goals, and dreams.

Once you choose a coach, the actual coaching “meetings” often take place over the phone or using a video connection, like Skype or Blue Jeans. This means you can work with your coach when and where it’s convenient for you. And you can work with a coach who is located anywhere there is a phone or computer connection.

Typically, you will have an initial meeting during which, you and your coach will get to know each other. You’ll set up a plan for your sessions and get clarity about what you want from coaching. After the first meeting, you’ll meet periodically to further explore your goals, and develop steps to achieve them.  Your coach will be your partner throughout the cycle of reflecting, clarifying, identifying, planning, and achieving the life you want. And when you’re ready, they will be your accountability partner to help remind you of the goals you’ve set for yourself.

The beauty of this is that you don’t need to have anything figured out before you connect with a coach. All you really need is the desire and willingness to share your story. Are you ready to gain clarity and live purposefully? Are you ready to be heard? If your answer is yes…then you’re ready for a coach.

Check out Life Reimagined and explore the coaching options available to you!

colin callahanPosted by Colin Callahan, Director of Coaching Services for Life Reimagined, where he is responsible for strategy, operations, and quality for coach offerings, including one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and live group workshops. Reach out to Colin through coaching@lifereimagined.org.

Pursuing a Career in Mental Health? You’re Going to Want to Know About This…

Laura Merandi, like many other military spouses, has struggled to start a career. She has faced multiple PCS moves–4 so far in her 9½ year marriage–three deployments, and several separations due to trainings. When she met her husband, Paul, she had been accepted to a top-tier graduate school in New York to get her master’s degree in social work. Her plans were detoured as a result, but she was happy to join Paul as he navigated through his career in the military. “He is the love of my life,” she shared, “of course I put everything on hold for him, for our future family. To me, there was no question, no hesitation.”

The first few years of marriage brought twin girls into their lives. With the moving, and the demands of parenting young children, her dreams of becoming a social worker had to go on the back burner for a while.

“I was so caught up in the day-to-day of caring for my twin girls, and preparing for changes that military life would bring, I just stopped thinking about my own career,” Laura explained.

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Once her girls were school-aged, Laura decided to reignite her dream of becoming a social worker. But going to that ivy-league school she was once accepted to was no longer an option. Nothing but an online or hybrid program would work for her anymore. “When I was not married to the military, I could choose colleges that were brick-and-mortar. This was not the case now. I needed to rely on programs that were available online, or if needed, programs that had some limited time on campus, but with the bulk of my time spent doing my work remotely.”

This was the first of many hurdles for Laura.

First, she struggled to find an accredited school online. There were few options online for schools with counseling or social work. So Laura decided to enroll in an online school in counseling with the right accreditation… as far as she could tell.

Laura, like many other military spouses, took on her education with the help of loans, scholarships, and grants. She excelled in her coursework, earning a 4.0 GPA during her two year master’s degree program. “I was excited,” she recalled. “I loved my coursework and found that I could design the work around my schedule and anything the military threw our way.”

Her happiness was short-lived, however, when she couldn’t t find supervision in order to get licensed. She was moving again.

And that wasn’t all.

It turned out the school she attended was regionally accredited, but not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which was now a requirement to work with many insurance panels. Particularly those who work with military service members, veterans and their families.

I was devastated. I worked so hard, raising a family, supporting my husband, and getting through a demanding program. It felt like all the doors were slammed shut on me. I couldn’t find an internship and supervisor because we kept moving and my program didn’t have the right accreditation. I couldn’t even think of getting licensed under those circumstances. Then, even if I tried to take courses in an accredited program, it was cost-prohibitive. I wanted to give up. My dream of supporting the mental health needs of our military community pretty much went up in smoke.

Just when Laura was going to give up, she found the support and friendship of other military spouses in an informal network online.

“The Military Spouse Behavioral Health Clinicians (MHBHC) social media group supported me through it.” Laura said. “I received advice from other spouses who were going through similar circumstances and had come out on the other side.

Using this network, Laura found out she could use her husband’s Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and pay for courses to complete my studies in a CACREP accredited program. But she still struggled to find a supervisor. When she finally did, it was costly, and took her much longer to reach her goals than she hoped.

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Today, Laura is searching for jobs that don’t have an issue with the moves associated with being a military family. She’s also working on her second professional license.

“Military spouses should not have to jump through so many hoops to be able to help our own community,” she shared. “What is most frustrating is that we have a nationwide shortage of providers. Why is it so hard for us to get our careers going?”

This is a question echoed by many military spouses whose career choices require them to be licensed. They face unending barriers, in some cases, just to be able to work and support their families and their community.

If we really want to be able to effect change and mitigate the mental health crisis in our communities, we need to support those who are working hard to do just that. This is why the Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network, a joint effort spearheaded by the National Military Family Association, in partnership with Give an Hour, is so timely and important.

With support through military spouses’ entire journey, from finding the right educational program, to helping with supervision and licensure, and assistance finding employment, spouses will be able to break existing barriers and complete a career that is meaningful to them. These careers are so helpful to our military community. It is our hope that with the right support, spouses, like Laura, will be able to join the mental health workforce and provide services to those who need it most.

If you are a military spouse pursuing an education or career in the mental health field, join the Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network and set yourself up for success in reaching those goals.

ingridPosted by Ingrid Herrera-Yee, PhD, Project Manager, Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Pipeline

Virtual Volunteering at NMFA: How does it work?

When people ask what I do for the National Military Family Association, as the Volunteer & Community Outreach Manager, it’s always hard for me to explain! I manage our Volunteers in the West Region…but I do it all virtually. Most people are used to the traditional type of volunteering–the “hands on” kind where volunteers show up, receive an assignment, finish it, and go home. There are really not a lot of ‘virtual volunteers’ out there.

One of the most important things the NMFA Volunteers do is support our advocacy mission. NMFA began as an organization that spoke up for military families, and this remains our focus today. Our Volunteers collect information about the issues and concerns military families have in their local communities, and provide that knowledge to our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. As we gather this local information from around the world, we can speak for military families on a national level.

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Another important task NMFA Volunteers carry out is telling military families about our organization! They share our valuable information and resources and talk about the wonderful things NMFA can offer military families–like scholarships for military spouses, and unique camp experiences through our Operation Purple® Program. We advocate for military families, but we also empower military families with knowledge and confidence to advocate for themselves. NMFA strives to provide information and programs to help military families improve their lives.

There is absolutely no other way NMFA would be able to speak about the experiences and perspectives of military families of the seven uniformed services serving all over the globe without our strong and capable Volunteer Corps. And the most effective way for military families to learn about us is from an NMFA Volunteer who is active in the community where they live! Our Volunteers are NMFA’s face, and our voice in local military communities everywhere.

You might be wondering how I can manage a Volunteer Corps on multiple continents…all from my computer. Other volunteer managers I’ve met along the way had the same sentiment, “It must be hard to not have the daily ‘hands-on’ volunteer management experience! ”

But I disagree! Our Volunteer Corps is unique and extremely valuable to the overall mission of the National Military Family Association. I get to play a part in NMFA’s success by communicating with our Volunteers all over the world. I get to hear what’s happening in the lives of military families, and I hear about all of the wonderful things that individual states, cities, and other non-profit organizations are doing locally to celebrate and support military families.

Most importantly, I get to connect and work with amazingly smart, dedicated and talented military spouses who, like me, love the military life and want to make it better!

Do you have a desire to make your military community better? Join our Volunteer Corps and give a voice to your local installation. Together we’re stronger®!

liz-lPosted by Liz Larsen, Volunteer & Community Outreach Manager, West Region

6 Awesome Resources Job-Searching Military Spouses Need to Know About

A few short months before our wedding, my fiancé and I packed up and headed 1,236 miles from Kansas to Northern Virginia. As a Midwest girl, I was a fish out of water in the strong currents of the east coast. I quit my first real job and moved to a city with endless possibilities…or so I thought. Like so many others, I updated my resume and began job searching. Hitting the submit button on the online job application became my worst enemy; it was like I was sending my resume down a black hole… if only I knew then what I know now.

What do I know now, you ask? I know there are wonderful resources out there for military spouses pursuing careers, and not just careers, but portable careers. Before you start sending your resume out to the black hole of the internet, consider these available resources to help your job hunt.

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America’s Career Force

  • It’s mission: Assist career minded military spouses with portable remote careers that will follow them wherever the military takes them.
  • Does it work? As a connection between companies and the global military spouse network, America’s Career Force recently worked with a Fortune 500 company and placed a military spouse with them. The company was so excited to have her on their team and didn’t realize the struggles military spouses face, they’ve since started a military spouse hiring initiative to support military spouses further.
  • What else: CEO and Founder Leigh Searl explains, “I recently moved to Germany and the second military spouse I met said to me, ‘I have a master’s degree and there just aren’t jobs for me here. I don’t want to work as a clerk somewhere, I want to be able to use my education.’ This is exactly why I started America’s Career Force – to help professional military spouses find meaningful employment alongside their active duty service member. Remote careers are the solution to bridging the spouse unemployment gap.”

Flex Jobs

  • It’s mission: FlexJobs provides an innovative, professional job service to help you find the best flexible jobs available, safely and easily. Every job is hand-screened and legitimate. Guaranteed.
  • Does it work? Military spouse, Angie Dahlstrom, was looking for part-time employment while stationed in Korea with her family and found the perfect fit with Flex Jobs. Angie says, “I find the FlexJobs site user-friendly. I appreciated the email alerts, resume and interview support, as well as the awesome job hunter resource options available. The fact that FlexJobs offers global, remote positions was a huge plus for me!”
  • What else: FlexJobs is a partner of NMFA and offers military spouse’s subscriptions at a discounted rate. Register with NMFA for more details on this offer.

Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Program

  • It’s mission: A nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.
  • Does it work? To date, more than 28,000 veterans and military spouses have obtained jobs through Hiring Our Heroes events. More than 2,000 companies of all sizes have committed to hire 710,000 veterans and military spouses as part of the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign. Of those commitments, there have been more than 505,000 confirmed hires.
  • What else: Digital resources include distinct resume builders for veterans and transitioning service members, as well as military spouses; a jobs portal that allows veterans and service members to search for employment opportunities in America’s fastest growing job markets and industries; a 24/7 virtual career fair platform; an interactive employer best practices site; and a virtual mentorship program that connects veteran and spouse protégés with experienced mentors.

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Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN)

  • It’s mission: MSCCN works with spouses, caregivers, and dependents to get them employment-ready, and help them find and secure employment opportunities aligned with their experiences and goals.
  • Does it work?  In 2015, Corporate America Supports You (CASY) & MSCCN reported 7,045 (including 2,919 National Guard) hires; in 2016, CASY & MSCCN have reported 1,798 (including 786 National Guard) hires to date.
  • What else: MSCCN employment specialists, in concert with a training department, provide resume, personal branding, and interview assistance, assist applicants with the job search, and mentor applicants throughout the employment process.

Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP)

  • It’s mission: The Military Spouse Employment Partnership is a career partnership connecting military spouses with more than 300 employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. MSEP is part of the Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program that offers comprehensive information, tools and resources to support military spouse career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.
  • Does it work? More than 300 MSEP employers have hired more than 90,000 military spouses.
  • What else? MSEP is a solution to assist spouses in finding and maintaining employment to achieve their career goals, despite the challenges of frequent relocation. Military spouses can find jobs and career opportunities by logging in to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Career Portal.

ServingTalent

  • It’s mission: ServingTalent actively finds employment for professional military spouses.
  • Does it work? It’s built strong relationships with a number of Fortune 500 and smaller firms who are really excited about working with them, and who have been simply speechless at the level of experience and education the candidates possess.
  • What else: ServingTalent President Maggie Varona, explains, “Our ultimate goal is to end the staggeringly high levels of military spouse unemployment and underemployment by building relationships with employers who understand the value we can bring to their organizations. Thanks to 21st century technology and changing employer attitudes, we can now envision an economy in which military spouses no longer have to give up on their professional ambitions simply because they fell in love with someone in the military.”

Are you a military spouse who’s had success with job searching? What job search resources have worked for you?

allie-jPosted by Allie Jones, Program Manager, Spouse Education + Professional Support

Survive and Thrive: Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Dearest sweet North Carolina,
As I reflect back on your glistening winters cuddled up by a crackling fireplace, spring seasons filled with fragrant blooms of jasmine, vibrant falls watching the leaves change from green to warm oranges and reds, and hot, southern summers complete with fireflies and cold sweet tea, it occurred to me: this is home. This is where I belong. I long to see fields of cotton and tobacco; sit on the front porch and talk for hours about the weather. Cheerwine. Bojangles. Tar Heels…a few of my favorite things. You are the sweet to my tea. Forever up and gone to Carolina in my mind. Until we meet again.

Feeling a Southern state of mind coming on? I know I sure am! When we were stationed at Camp Lejeune, I fell in love with North Carolina. Many of the Marine Corps’ best will eventually land at Lejeune, and I hope you love it as much as I did. Here are a few tips and tricks to surviving and thriving in Jacksonville, North Carolina:

1. Two words: Bug repellent
You’ll thank me later. Camp Lejeune is home to numerous swamp lands. You know what that means? Mosquitoes the size of small cats. I kid, I kid…but seriously, those critters are ruthless. Citronella alone cant handle those bad boys. Do yourself a favor and invest in some heavy duty insect repellent. Birds aren’t the only thing flying around.

2. Watch out for the Jacksonville Ninja
Seriously. Jacksonville has their very own ninja. You can see him on the side of Highway 17 practicing his mad karate skills. Although I’m unsure of his name, he has become a local favorite and a legend, if you will. You cant miss him. You’ll know him when you see him. And snap a pic when you do!

3. Bring your spirit of adventure
Up for a road trip? The Crystal Coast lines the shores of Eastern Carolina. Along these shores, you can find many of the East Coast’s best beaches: Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, Topsail Beach, Surfside Beach, and Emerald Isle, just to name a few. So pack your sunscreen and get some vitamin sea!

Not about that beach life? That’s okay. North Carolina has something for everyone! Wanna go into the mountains for a getaway? Head to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. You won’t be disappointed. Not into the finer things in life? Rather keep it simple? Western North Carolina is home to numerous Appalachian Mountain ranges and trails. Various camping sites are dotted throughout this mountainous region.

Other places to check out, if you’re looking for some family-friendly staycation ideas around the Camp Lejeune area Fort Macon State ParkFort Fisher Aquarium, and the USS North Carolina Battleship, Wilmington.

4. Try something new.
Cheerwine. Bojangles. Cookout. Hwy 55. All Carolina favorites. Try them, you’ll LOVE it!

 

5. Are you ready for some football? Or basketball? Or baseball?
Duke University. University of North Carolina. Eastern Carolina University. North Carolina State University. Nuff’ said. North Carolina is ACC Country. A sport for everyone, all year long.

6. Humidity.
Embrace it. It’s not goin’ anywhere.

7. “Pardon our noise, its the sound of freedom.”
With Marine Corps Air Station New River being only a few miles from main side Camp Lejeune, you’ll be sure to hear the maneuverings of aircraft daily. Embrace it. Learn to love it…it’s the sound of freedom!

8. Take it slow. Kick your feet up.
Welcome to the South, a place where the tea is sweet and the accents are sweeter. Time moves a little slower. Summer starts in April. Macaroni and Cheese is a staple. Front porches are wide, and words are long. Talk to your neighbors. Wave hello. ‘Y’all’ is the only proper noun. Chicken is fried. Biscuits are covered with gravy. It’s a grit-eatin’ world. Everything is “darlin’” and someone’s heart is always being blessed.

Enjoy your stay.

Have you been stationed at Camp Lejeune? What are the must-do’s?

Posted by Amanda Ward, Marine Corps spouse and blogger at With Love, Mandy Lou

Thanks, but No Thanks: 5 Reasons Military Spouses Are Saying “No” to Volunteering

Think fast: what would you say to someone from your spouse’s unit asking you to volunteer with the Family Readiness Group (FRG)?

There was a time, being a young, wide-eyed, new military spouse, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. Having moved away from my hometown, volunteering in the military community seemed like a great way to meet other spouses, find new friends, and be plugged in to my husband’s world.

And it was, for a while. But then it got old.

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I served as the Ombudsman for one of my husband’s commands and hoped that, besides being a resource for the command families, I’d be a person others might gravitate to for friendship. Unfortunately, the friends didn’t come with the title. In fact, it felt like people RAN from me.

Once a new Ombudsman took my place, I knew I was done for a while.

I felt unsupported as a volunteer, but then felt guilty for not volunteering. Turns out, I’m not alone. Spouses are “over it” for a lot of reasons.

  1. Burn out.

“Volunteer positions aren’t always the best organized or most effectively communicated,” Kristen, a military spouse blogger told me. “I sometimes felt unappreciated or even taken advantage of. Plus it was hard to fit [volunteering] into my already-busy schedule.”

  1. Red tape.

Other spouses echoed Kristen’s thoughts about effective communication. Especially when procedures on installations tightened up and changed.

“I stopped volunteering on-post mainly because of all the red tape,” Karen, another military spouse, explained. “Oh my gosh, the regulations for fundraising, events, and other things were incredibly stifling to an FRG.”

  1. Childcare costs.

Heather, an Air Force Spouse, has always been a Key Spouse, but says she struggled to stay involved when her husband got new orders with frequent, unpredictable TDY’s.

“With four children, and limited access to affordable childcare,” she shared, “it was difficult to volunteer. As much as I wanted to serve, I couldn’t pay for a sitter to go work for free.”

  1. Family time.

But even with volunteer options that work around childcare, spouses, like Meg, say the commitment many volunteer positions require is a deal breaker.

“Most volunteer opportunities require a minimum number of hours–usually during the work day; And when it’s not during working hours, the time commitment expectation deeply cuts into the already precious time with my spouse and child,” Meg explained. “At the end of the day, the joy and satisfaction of volunteering for a good cause are outweighed by time and money.”

  1. Lack of support.

“I was Key Spouse for a year at our last base, and it was just awful,” said Kathryn, another Air Force spouse. “The squadron didn’t seem to care and just wanted to have someone [volunteer] so they could say they did. It was like pulling teeth to get information.”

Having an experience similar to Kathryn’s, I started wondering why commands even want these groups and volunteers at all when they don’t have the time to commit to helping them thrive.

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For service members to be 100% mission-focused, they need their home-life to be copacetic; kids are good, spouse is strong and supportive, life is stable. But military homes can’t find stability without support from the military.

That’s why Family Readiness Groups, Ombudsmans, and Key Spouses were created, right? But what if no one is supporting those volunteers?

In a recent blog post, military spouse, Rebecca, wrote about taking a break from volunteering, “I don’t think the military is doing a very good job of taking care of volunteers and families these days…So now, it’s up to me to take care of my family.”

It’s been 15 years of war for today’s military families, and there’s no end in sight. Many families are war-weary, leaving military service for the stability of civilian life, and licking the wounds from a battle-hardened, selfless job.

How will military families thrive without a strong, supportive, and understanding network of volunteers?

This community needs someone to say, “Me, too,” and “I’ve got your back,” and “Here’s some advice.” And it’s the military spouse volunteers who’ve been those fountains of knowledge and strength. We have to turn this train around. We do have each other’s backs, don’t we? At least in theory?

So, the question I want to know: would you volunteer with your unit’s FRG? Is it worth the headache? I’ll say yes if you will.

Have you taken a break from volunteering in the military community? What would it take for you to go back?

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager