SYRACUSE -- Nine New York National Guard spouses were able to voice their concerns to Karen Pence, spouse of the Vice President of the United States during a round table discussion at Syracuse University, on June 19.
"We have been traveling all around the world speaking to spouses of all branches of service, this was our first opportunity to speak to just National Guard spouses," Pence explained.
Pence accompanied her husband on a visit to Syracuse. This was an opportunity to visit local military spouses, she said.
Two of the spouse's husbands are in the Army National Guard and seven from the Air National Guard, their husbands either served part- time or full-time.
"This is the first opportunity I have had to get together with other spouses as a group and spend time together voicing our concerns and speak about possible changes," said Stephanie Cooney, a Baldwinsville, N.Y. resident and spouse of Air Guard Capt. Patrick Cooney.
After speaking with the spouses, Pence spent more than 10 minutes shaking their hands and taking group photos.
Pence spoke with the wives at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. She asked them what the government could do to make their lives easier.
"I think sometimes the spouses are not giving the accolades that they deserve," Pence said.
"We couldn't have the volunteer military like we have, without the support of the spouses," Pence said.
"The culture is different on every base, some have reading groups, classes, child care and help spouse's networks and some are slower getting different cultures," she added.
Because their spouse are reservist they do not have the community of an active duty base the women told Pence. They miss some of the support services at an active duty post they said.
Pence's son Michael is an officer in the United States Marines. She cannot relate as a military spouse, but she said but knows what it's like to be a military mom.
"We see a different level of stress," Pence said.
People want to support military families, Pence said. There are resources available for military spouses that they may not realize are available for them, she added.
Rachel Smith, a Rochester N.Y. resident spouse of Army National Guard Sgt. Matthew Smith, said she appreciate the chance to speak to the vice president's wife.
"It was such a positive experience speaking to Mrs. Pence today, she listened to what we had to say and she has the platform to help get our voices heard," Smith said.
"It was a great experience, she was kind, welcoming and genuinely cared for the spouses," said Jennifer Cogan a Liverpool, N.Y. resident and spouse of Army National Guard Sgt. First Class Colin Cogan.
She wanted to hear our concerns and the different ways we support our husbands. As National Guard spouses we do not often get to see each other, this was an awesome experience to meet other wives that live in the Syracuse area," Cogan said.