Some of you out there remember when a representative of the Post or Unit Wives Clubs met you at the door of the TLF or maybe even at the billeting office when you arrived. You were swept under the wing of someone who was there to help you muscle-over the obstacles of being at a new installation and getting your feet on the ground. Over time, many of us old folk spouses were joyous as we watched the Mil Services institutionalize many of the Wives Clubs run, family support functions. If for no other reason, to lend a link to common programs at all of the posts and bases. We even assisted in ensuring that somehow, the "need" was properly defined and the programs were funded. dMany programs of the FRG/A&FRC became high points and "best of breed" even when compared to similar programs off-post. And trust me, the FRG/A&FRC's and their programs are (or can be) GREAT organizations, esp. w/ their Key Spouse/Volunteer pyramids, Hearts-Apart, and the way they strive to support those back home while keeping in contact with their loved ones while deployed.
Success! Now, when we PCS from post to post, we all have an idea of what to expect and where to expect it to come from. We knew that "Newbies" were kinda-sorta the responsibility of the unit, and its Key Spouse. And our Wife/Spouse organizations began to look more social, and less service, oriented. (Deep breath here) We started focusing on "those that are here" and less on "seeking those that need us." Which led in my mind, to the proverbial "self licking ice cream cone." Our spouse clubs began to exist for the members entertainment, because frankly, the "unit" was in large part responsible for taking care of spouses needs as it dealt with "the military" and besides, wouldn't "they" ask if they needed something? They have FRGs and Key Spouses, right?
You'd think that the resultant would be our Spouse Organizations would be chock-a-block with members having raucous times. And with a rising population of male spouses married to active duty military members (~9-12%), you'd think guys would be more obvious. So why is it, that most Spouse Clubs have memberships that are 15-20% of total available folks who are eligible to be members? And as stark as that number, only 15-20% of these members even bother to participate on any regular or recurring basis. And if you see 1 or 2 guys, it's a damn miracle. What's up? Why do maybe 100 of 500 ever join, and why do only 20 of that 100 ever show up? (go with my percentages here, don't debate the raw "example" numbers ...)
Are our Spouses Clubs still significant in their current configuration? Are they meeting the intended needs of the eligible population, as set out in the original charters of old? Are they supporting the spouses or satisfied with entertaining us? Were you met at your new duty station by a member of the spouses club, and if so, was there ever a "second" meeting? Were you immediately involved or were you left to your own devices? SHOULD the spouses club even be considering what I write here or am I just an old Toad, in a "time long forgotten?"
If I showed up at your door, <*knock-knock*> "Hi, I'd like for you to come join us in the Spouses Club-what can I do to get you to participate?" What would you say?
What are we missing? What would make a successful spouses club? AND why aren't there more men stepping up and getting involved? Have we asked them what anti-gravity force field keeps them away? Are we so involved with our own lives that it's just easier to let the Key Spouse/Key Volunteers do their things? (and for the last stink bomb on this post, ...)
Are the Spouses Clubs, relevant?
Choose a question, any question --don't try to tackle them all, most are rhetorical; although I may allude to the fact that the baby may be ugly, doesn't for a minute mean it ain't loved.
Let the beatings begin!
Over & Out, MaintenanceToadOne
(Going to be at SB Live III? We'll see you there!)