To build resiliency, build connection. Success requires including military spouses.
That’s my answer to the urgent call to build resiliency in our Air Force.
There is a direct correlation between connection and resiliency.
(There’s also a direct correlation between connection and retention, but that’s another article.)
To build resiliency, build connection.
We need to do a better job building connection not just in our work centers, but in our military homes as well.
We need to remind our airmen, and their spouses, why serving in the military is not just a job.
Military service is a life – and whether I signed up for it or not, this is the life I haven chosen every day since I said, “I do.”
I don’t wear a uniform from but I’m part of the military, too.
So here’s my unsolicited two cents on building resiliency:
Intentionally build connection among, and for, military spouses.
Spouses everywhere need to know they are welcome.
Spouses everywhere want to know they belong.
Spouses everywhere need to be encouraged to participate.
Spouses everywhere want to be empowered to contribute meaningfully.
(If 1 in 4 military spouses are underemployed or unemployed, at least 25% of our military spouses are looking for ways to contribute meaningfully in their community.)
Nearly every military spouse I know has wondered where they can help or if they are invited to the table.
I even debated writing this article because the invitation to dialogue seemed primarily directed at commanders and those in supervisory roles.
But I’ve been living the Air Force life for 28 of my 40 years, so I’ve seen a fair amount.
A lot has changed since my grandmother married my grandfather and then sent him off to war — twice.
When I joined my husband on his military adventure in 2008, the Air Force I found didn’t look exactly like the one I remembered as a military brat.
But one thing has not changed in the 72 years of the Air Force:
Military spouses are the heart of every military community.
When military spouses feel connected, we are bridge builders, network managers, and a formidable intelligence-gathering agency.
We are the unpaid backbone of countless organizations on base, in the schools, and throughout any community.
But too often, military spouses’ contributions go unrecognized and they feel unseen.
As a result, many spouses are opting out.
Dozens of others are sitting on the sidelines waiting to be called off the bench and put in the game.
New spouses aren’t learning how to build connection.
(Younger spouses may seem to prefer digital connectivity, but when was the last time you asked a young spouse to join you for coffee, lunch, or a social gathering? Let’s not hide behind excuses while also asking them not to hide behind a screen.)
As much as I’d like an invitation to be part of the dialogue on resiliency, I’m not waiting any longer.
I choose to use my influence to build connection among military spouses.
I write to champion building resiliency through building connection.
I speak to spouses groups to remind us:
“Care more than some think is wise. Risk more than some think is safe. Dream more than some think is practical. Expect more than some think is possible.”
Are you in? Start showing up.
Together we will help solve the biggest problems facing military families:
ALL of it ends when we show up and build connection.
Get off the bench and get in the game.
Let’s begin with a commitment to be constructive, not destructive with our comments.
Resist the urge to champion arbitrary ‘sides.’
We’re on the same team. Let’s start acting like it.
Become a multiplier.
Grab a friend and go to the next spouses’ event in your unit, on your base, at your church or in your community.
Show up and build connection.
Let’s quit hesitating or making excuses.
Every single one of us has a story about “that time” or “that person.”
We hold it up like a badge of honor or a hall pass as though it’s permission to opt out.
THAT is our WHY.
SHE is why I stand up, show up, & speak up.
SHE is why I tell you: You are not alone.
SHE is why I cheer wildly for you.
Together, we’re going to create a safety net so every spouse knows:
You are welcome here,
You belong here,
You have a seat at the table,