Sal Giunta, first living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam, is keynote speaker
McLean, Va – Military.com gathered hundreds of military spouses and military family professionals at their annual Spouse Summit in Washington, D.C., last week to network and address the issues important to military families. Sal Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam, kicked off the two-day conference with his keynote address on Thursday morning.
The Summit, which featured Jacey Eckhart, Military.com Director of Spouse and Family Programs, banned PowerPoint presentations and asked speakers and attendees to roll up their sleeves and really work on the challenges but also highlight what is working in military families today.
“There is just no replacement for laughing with each other, exchanging ideas and having those ‘ah-ha!’ moments with your peers. When you work online and socialize online you forget the world is run by real people. So we bring these spouses together to talk about what matters and find solutions to that which challenges us and we make new friends in the process,” said Jacey Eckhart.
Some of the key findings from the Summit working groups include:
- Serve a spouse ‘cocktail.’ Nearly 70 percent of all participants indicated that networking was the most important part of the conference for them. Yet meeting strangers does not come easily to most people -- even for those who were present in a professional capacity. So we purposely designed each session to create a spouse/provider/expert “cocktail” of people -- by branch, by age, by interest, by birthday, even by age of first child. Our goal was to leave everyone stirred, not shaken.
- Know that unit commanders are letting us down. The one moment of the conference that enflamed every table was the segment on how to get family members to participate in unit functions and base-wide programs. Participants agreed that we can do social media all we want, but there is absolutely no replacement for the personal call or text with this generation. And from our SpouseBuzz readers, we know that family members do expect us to call. Yet everyone reported it was nearly impossible to get a list with spouse contact information from the command -- even when married to the commander. If the folks at the top do not collect the spouses' information during check in at the unit, we have lost those families. Do your part so we can do ours.
- Career is Queen. In this military crowd, love might always be King. Yet the segment on spouse career was consistently mentioned as being the most useful part of the conference. These participants and experts had a million ways to get around the difficulties of combining career with military life. There are inside secrets to spouse employment. We could not write fast enough to keep up with these innovative, resilient, persistent people.
- Steal from the rich. Military spouses are an audience that constantly renews itself. In our own way, we all go through deployments and moves and work decisions and the complications of loving someone in uniform. But so often our readers tell us that they feel they are coming up with their solutions alone. Coming together in person in working groups -- especially our sessions on career and raising happy kids -- participants said that they felt like were stealing ideas from the rich. Look for those great ideas in stories on Military.com and SpouseBuzz.com in the weeks to come.
Media interested in more information on the event should contact Sarah Blansett via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 703-346-8523. The full schedule of the program is available at: http://spousesummit.com/