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Get in the Game
Image: – – Macho Spouse
By John Aldrich, AVP, Military Relations at American Military University
Movember, the grass roots movement to raise awareness about men's health issues is nearly complete, and for those of you who are growing a mustache to show support for the cause, I salute you. For those who didn't participate or weren't aware of Movember, there is always next November.
Just like the mustaches of the Men of Movember, male military spouses come in all shapes and sizes. Some are stay-at-home dads, some run businesses from home, and others balance careers outside the home and taking care of the family.
My wife retired more than two years ago after a 30 year naval career. During her time on active duty, my own experiences as a military spouse probably weren't much different than yours are today. We moved to over nine duty stations and raised two military brats. I held numerous careers, even doing a stint as “Mr. Mom” not too long after Michael Keaton popularized the role.
Cutting edge? Not really. Just like many military spouses, I fell into it. One day I went from playing sailor to playing with Chelsea on the playground.
Most male spouses are happy just letting the thought that they are a military spouse slip under the radar. There isn't one male military spouse whose career identity hasn't been mistaken for their wife's career at one time or another. Even today, it is inevitable.
As my wife's career progressed, so too did the requests to become more involved in her military career. Like you, it was challenging enough managing my own career. At some point though, you have to decide whether you want to get in the game or to stay on the side lines.
A military spouse friend of mine once described being involved in her spouse's career like this: At one duty station, you are in the driver's seat and completely involved. At the next duty station, you are the passenger, only helping out when needed. At yet another duty station, you are firmly in the backseat of the car, not participating at all. Her analogy seemed fitting for the rhythm that goes with permanent change of station assignments and the life of a military spouse.
Throughout most of my wife's career, I sat on the sidelines. Toward the end of her career, however, I was asked by Pacific Fleet to be the chair for the annual Joint Spouse Conference in Hawaii. I had no idea what the Joint Spouse Conference was all about, but several of the flag officer spouses convinced me that as a male spouse I would make history by chairing this event. Before I knew it, I was the chair of a group of 23 women, all of whom were wondering what I was doing playing in their playground.
I have to admit that after my first meeting, I was having doubts myself. Over the course of a full year of planning, the conference was a success, I survived, and I am still Facebook friends with several board members.
I share my experience to encourage you to not wait as long as I did to get in the game. You married someone who is in the military, so you might as well step up to the plate and get involved. Nobody says that you have to join the local spouses group. Spouse groups aren't for everyone, but there are numerous places where you can contribute to mission readiness. Whether it is getting involved at the command level, volunteering at the local school, or simply helping a fellow spouse in need, we can all contribute something.
Who knows? You might even consider organizing your own Movember campaign next November for the male military spouses in your community.
About the Author
John Aldrich is the associate vice president for Military Relations at American Military University (AMU). Prior to joining AMU, he served as an education services specialist for Marine Corps Base Twenty-Nine Palms California; director of career services and job placement at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort South Carolina; education services specialist for Navy College Programs, Sicily, Italy; and academic advisor for undecided students and student athletes at the University of Rhode Island. Aldrich also served as a Naval Hospital Corpsman, Fleet Marine Forces. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences and Services and a Master of Science in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island. He is married to Captain Dianne DeVoll Aldrich, USN (RET). John enjoys any outdoor activity, cooking, and making furniture.
You don't have to know a military family to say "thank you!" A note of appreciation for a military family's sacrifice makes an impact whether you're a friend, a stranger, or an anonymous benefactor.
November is Military Families Appreciation Month, and the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Branch Spouses of the Year (Branch SOYs) want to help everyone, everywhere participate in thanking and honoring military families.
Americans love our military, but many people don't quite know how best to express their gratitude. As National Guard Spouse of the Year Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee notes, “saying "thanks" to our military families is something that many want to do, but are at a loss as to how to do it –or in the case of Guard and Reserve, how to find us!”
So the Branch SOYs created #30Ways of Thanks to help. Each day in November, the Branch SOYs will release a video with an action item that people around the country can participate in virtually or locally, individually or in groups. Participants can hash tag #30Ways so that their messages, photos, or videos are spread far and wide. Hash tags #GratefulNation and #MilFamsRock can also be added as a short-hand way to say “You are amazing, military families!” Best of all, the entire #30Ways video collection will be stored on the Branch SOYs' YouTube channel so that it can be repeated in Novembers to come, or whenever someone is looking for a way to say “thank you” to military families.
I get these "google alerts" every day, which are basically just articles and posts from around the web related to certain keywords I want to monitor. "SAHD" and "Stay-At-Home-Dad" are keywords I monitor and I have been getting a great deal of posts.
Much of the stuff that I'm seeing regarding SAHD is still in the "novelty" range, or the "Awww, that's cute" range. I also check out websites that give the spouse's perspective - you know, the women who live with these dudes. These sites are way more interesting to me than the talk about the latest television show depicting SAHDs.
Anyway, I haven't seen much about the health of SAHDs. In all of my monitors and in all of the web surfing I've done on the topic of SAHDs, I have not come across any health-related posts. I found that very interesting.