by Johanna Wonderly
Military Families are a huge asset to our chapters. I live in California and my husband is a service member of the California National Guard and I want to share my experience as a military spouse in chapter leadership. Something about the military is we're always on the go. Things are unpredictable and we learn to adapt and go with the flow. My husband was deployed this past May. We have three small children. They're ages two, four, and six. All three of them were born Hard of Hearing. Having our community is vital for their success. And because of that, I am motivated to support my chapter.
At California Hands & Voices I am in the role of ASTra Coordinator, Regional Representative serving 14 counties, and a member of our Northern CA Hands & Voices Family Camp planning committee. Here in California 3 of our original 7 ASTra Advocates were military spouses. We very much appreciate their willingness to serve our organization while their spouse serves in uniform.
I want to share five things about military spouses and how our chapters can support them.
- We are resilient. And with that comes amazing sets of skills. We know how to throw together a last-minute party. We know how to do things on a shoestring budget. We know how to make the magic happen and when plans change, we're flexible because these are all things that are part of the military way of life.
- Because military spouses move often, we have connections all over the globe. So, when Hands & Voices members are transferring in from out of state may have a friend of a friend and those who are moving out of state, we can opt to connect them with a friend in the states they're headed to.
- It's important to trust that we as military spouses know our limits. As chapter leaders we are apt to miss an opportunity if we assume or decide for the spouse that they are too busy to do something to support the chapter. Allowing our military membership to make these decisions on their own, we maximize potential to bring new skills and perspectives to the table. We know our limits.
- If we don't come to an event, please don't give up on us. It's not personal. Keep inviting us. The time will come where the stars will align and we will join. And we will be grateful for that opportunity.
- Offering to watch siblings for doctor's appointments is an answered prayer. For my own family Audiology appointments are a big deal and require multiple adults to supervise kids while one is in the booth, and this adds a level of complexity when it comes to setting up appointments, especially when the spouse is deployed and your support circle may not yet be established, due to frequent moves.
To those in leadership, what we want you to know when reaching out to Military Families who may not be in leadership.