New Army Study - Seeking Male Military Spouses

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New Army Study - Seeking Male Military Spouses

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Image: – – Macho Spouse

 

ArmySpouseLogo.jpgI have focused the last 10 years of my career as a research psychologist on trying to better understand the needs, struggles, and success of military couples and families. I've worked with hundreds of couples, given numerous presentations, published several articles, received multiple research grants … yet it is quite clear to me that in some ways, I have failed in my efforts.

To give some background, I began my first academic position in 2005. Given all that was happening at that time, I wanted to give back in some way to service members and families who give so much of themselves in service of our country. As a civilian, I saw two main ways of being able to actively engage in this. One was to volunteer when I was able. The second way was to find a way to build this commitment to military families into my everyday life.
For me, the second approach – folding my efforts into the very fabric of my life – was the way to make a sustained commitment over time. That is when I set about trying to connect my everyday work as a clinical psychologist and researcher to helping this unbelievably deserving group of people. I took my expertise in research on couples and anxiety, and applied it to researching the experiences of military couples, with the goal of learning how best to help those couples when they struggle.


Research, however, is imperfect. As a researcher, I have to make ProfRenshaw1.jpgdecisions based on a number of restrictions that don't match a military family's everyday life. One major decision is which families to study. I want to learn about all types of families – but for research purposes, you have to have enough families complete your study to then run analyses on things to make any conclusions. This means that studying female service members/veterans and their male partners (or same-sex couples) is much more difficult than studying male service members/veterans and their female partners.
So, although I have helped increase our understanding of the needs of military couples and families over the past decade, what I have learned is greatly limited by a near exclusive focus on male service members and female partners. I want to change that.

I now have funding from the U.S. Army to learn specifically about the struggles and successes of families other than male service members and female partners, to get a better understanding of some of the issues that different types of families are facing. We are starting this research with phone interviews with male partners of female Army soldiers who have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or related areas over the past 13 years. If you think you might qualify for this study, and you would be interested in participating, please click here to learn more.

I am the first to admit that this study, too, is imperfect. One big drawback is that, because the funding is from the Army, we are currently restricted to working with Army couples (active duty, National Guard, and Reserves). The funding is also targeted toward those who have deployed since 9/11/2001. But I see this as at least a step in the right direction.

As a researcher (and an American), not a day goes by when I don't wish there was a way to do more and to do it better – our military families deserve nothing less. The most I can promise is that I will keep trying. I know I can never do it all, but I hope that my efforts in some way help honor the service and sacrifices of all service members, veterans, and their families. I am truly grateful to you all.

 

(Keith Renshaw received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. He specializes in anxiety, stress/trauma, and interpersonal relationships, with a particular focus on romantic relationships in which one individual has experienced a trauma. He was an adjunct faculty member at University of North Carolina for 2 years and an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah from 2005-2009, before joining the faculty at George Mason University in the fall of 2009)

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2015 'Thank You' and Year In Review

malemilitaryspouse_2015_YIRIt's the holiday season and to me that means spending time with family and friends while reflecting on the year that was. How many had a good year? How many of you feel as if you've accomplished, overcome, loved and laughed as much as possible? There have been a few bad years in my life where I just wanted the damn thing to finish so I could start fresh with a clean slate, it's a mindset, but we all know that reality doesn't work that way. I usually judge my life in a similar way as to how we judge football coaches, “what have you done for me lately.” My year was a good one, a net-positive. So congratulations, you get “happy Chris,” or at least “less grumpy and sarcastic Chris.”

The tremendous amount of progress within the male military spouse community is one reason why 2015 was a good year. Guys, we're finally starting to get some recognition. People, businesses, and other organizations are starting to approach us and ask for our input, insight, and yes, our business. Marketers are finally recognizing that we are a demographic worth pursuing; just check out this holiday spot from Toys R Us. (I just bought 4 gift cards for my nieces from them because of this commercial.)

In 2015, Macho Spouse was approached by the Sonoran Desert Institute's School of Firearms Technology to hold the first ever “Male Military Spouse Appreciation Day” where SDI donated a full-tuition scholarship to their popular Gunsmithing certificate course. (Male military spouses are a large demographic for them.) USAA asked for our participation to help raise awareness on the importance of life insurance during “Life Insurance Awareness Month.” Yeah, I didn't know that month existed before this opportunity either, but USAA sure knows that we exist! And Marriott really knocked us off our feet when they offered several nights worth of hotel stays in return for a few reviews on their TownePlace Suites properties. TownePlace Suites made it very clear that they are interested in helping military families who are on the road, from PCSing to family vacations, TownePlace Suites wants our business!  And it's not like this is some shabby hotel chain guys, their rooms are usually very spacious, clean, come with fully equiped kitchens, and hot breakfasts.  I was surprised to learn how many were actuallyl located near military installations, which makes them a great temporary housing option, or vacation get-a-way. In full disclosure, I dispersed their generous offering quietly among those guys who have helped keep Macho Spouse up and running over the last few years. We don't make any money here, so when a top-notch organization such as Marriott offers us some swag, I like to spread it out amongst our volunteers first. If you want access to some of this cool stuff, contact me and be prepared to help build our community. But while I'm speaking of TownePlace Suites, you guys should check them out because they're really showing their appreciation and commitment to our military community! That goes for USAA and Sonoran Desert Institute as well, these organizations aren't just talking about supporting male military spouses, they're actually doing it. So let's not forget to return this generosity in 2016.

While I'm patting others on the back, I can't forget the amazing content NextGen Military Spouse, Military.com/SpouseBuzz, and Military Spouse delivered on behalf of male military spouses in 2015. When I started Macho Spouse in late 2011/early 2012, there was nearly nothing…nothing, written for or about us male military spouses. No blogs, no websites, no Facebook pages, no nothing. Now look at us, male spouses are popping up everywhere! (We've probably had absolutely nothing to do with this trend, but I will take full credit.) So despite terrorism, politics, war, and racial unrest, life hasn't been all bad this year. It's been good enough for me to crack a cold one, light a cigar, sit back and reflect on how far we've come and how many goals are still left to accomplish. Don't worry, I won't be consuming and driving while reflecting, Dana and I have already booked our New Year's Eve room at the San Antonio Riverwalk TownePlace Suites. Happy 2015 everyone, have a safe holiday season!



 

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