I could go on for days about the 2012 Spouse Summit, but here are my top three reasons to attend a spouse summit.
1. Who knew learning about finances and benefits could be so interesting and, dare I say it, humorous???
Great job by USAA; not only did Jay (the panelist) give out useful and pertinent financial information, he actually found a way to make the topic more exciting than the norm, which tends to be about as riveting as watching paint dry. Usually, my eyes kinda glaze over, I may even drool a bit, and I travel to my happy place when the topic of budgeting pops up, but I found myself sitting up straighter, laughing, and not only paying attention, but writing notes. Jay did a great job fielding questions from the spouses as well, giving honest answers and opinions about co-signing with adult children, checking credit reports, Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP-yet another acronym), and how much we should spend on houses.
Knowing about finances and budget planning is key as a military spouse since there will come a time, if it hasn't already, where you are responsible for the flow of money in and out of your household. And if your spouse is like mine, spouting off facts about what percentage of take home pay we should save and when is the best time to transfer our regular IRA into a Roth is like giving catnip to a feline. He digs the financially savvy Heidi. Me-ow.
2. Reminder To Put the Oxygen Mask On Ourselves First
Taking care of you is first and foremost, especially during times of separation or stress. Which if you think about it, is a huge part of any spouse's year thanks to TDYs, deployments, and PCSing. The panels were directed specifically towards how to better ourselves, from mental well-being, career and educations, and being sure to get the most out of the benefits that are currently available to military families. By being proactive in your life and taking advantage of all the programs currently available to military spouses, we create a better life for our families and also better prepare ourselves to be that crucial anchor when needed. Knowledge is power!
The military is constantly changing (What? Really? Get! Out!) and so does the information and available services for military families. So even if you think you know it all, guess again. Everyone has something they can learn which benefits the spouse community as a whole.
3. The People
Hearing firsthand from other attendees reminded me of why I love being a military spouse. Some of the best comments and punch lines came from spouses, not the panels.
During lunch, Deanie Dempsey spoke of how she is not only a military spouse, but a proud military mama as well. Being the wife of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff doesn't exempt her from the pain associated with separation, she just has more experience with it. She has been there, done that, or has seen it firsthand and urged us to continue to share our stories. The Spouse Summit awarded her with her first standing ovation, which had to mean the world to her, coming from a room full of fellow military spouses. What was just as cool? Hearing spouses in the bathroom following the lunch, commenting on how "normal" and "like us" Mrs. Dempsey appeared...that she "gets it". I agree, ladies, I agree.
I honestly did not know what to expect from the panels, but was pleasantly surprised. The men and women who spoke to the spouses were intelligent, well-informed, and gave out sound advice. Panelist information was not watered down for our mental consumption. While there were a lot of laughs, there were also very valid points/concerns expressed on more serious matters.
Have to say, I felt honored that so many dedicated people, the numerous event sponsors, and Military.com put forth the effort to create such a worthy event for spouses. The amount of questions, and the number of people left standing at the microphone when time was up for each session, speaks volumes of how much this event was needed and wanted.
Proof that if you build it, we will come.
If you attended, what did you take away from the event, and/or what topic do you feel deserved more time?
If you were not able to attend, what topic do you feel should be discussed?