I'm New Here -- Give me a Hand?


As Andi announced yesterday, my name is Amy and I am the newest addition to the SpouseBUZZ blogging universe. I’m very excited to share with you what I’ve been learning about how the military supports us families. Because I am an Army spouse and because it is the largest of the services, much of my research is directed towards them.

I haven’t been a military spouse for very long -- just over two years, really. I have gone through one deployment, have one kiddo and just finished my first PCS.  

I have been around long enough, however, to realize that being a military spouse isn’t easy. In a world where divorce is an acceptable solution to even normal difficult situations and emotional turmoil, staying with a military marriage that is tough stuff from day one is a real challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I love our military life, but I know that staying with it for the long haul is going to require some courage -- and some help. 

That is where family support courtesy of the military comes in. Every service boasts its own brand of it. My focus is on those programs specifically aimed at helping military marriages sustain in the face of long deployments, separations, injuries and reintegrations. 

In a September conversation I had with Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, he suggested that perhaps the Army shouldn’t be overly involved in helping soldiers’ personal lives. And that’s probably true -- after all, do we really want the military telling us how to run our homes? 

But our military leadership still recognizes that if they break or hurt something, they need to fix it.

And military marriages are one of the things in danger of breaking.

The divorce statistics speak for themselves. In 2009 3.6 percent of military marriages ended in divorce. And that only counts those who divorced while still in the service -- not those whose marriage was on the brink but only fell apart after they got out.

In an effort to help military leaders say they have put in place marriage support programs. These include the Army program Strong Bonds and access to counseling through Military One Source.

The question then is over how well these programs are working, and whether or not they are the best use of the dollars and time that are being spent to make them happen. As a spouse I am thrilled that the Army is spending over $70 million to fund free marriage retreats. But if those retreats don’t help my marriage as much as a one day seminar on post, are they really worth it? 

Over the next few months I’ll be taking a look at questions like these. One of the most exciting parts of sharing my writing and research with you is the valuable comments I am counting on you to leave. This week I’ll be blogging about family forums from the AUSA conference here in D.C. where plenty of marriage support information is bound to cross my path. Thereafter I'll be diving straight into Project Military Family. 

Stay tuned.

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