Thursday, May 22, 2008

Spouse's Info Networks

Remember the children’s game of telephone? You know, the one where you whisper a sentence or phrase in someone’s ear (preferably as quickly as possible) then that someone would whisper it in the next person’s ear, and so on until the last person would announce a totally unrecognizable sentence or phrase and everyone would fall over laughing. That game. I used to think that the “spouse’s information network” was something like that children’s game. Someone in one of the “helping organizations” would tell someone, somewhere, something and sooner or later something remotely resembling the original message would make its way down to those who really needed to know. I’m glad to know that my understanding of how the information network actually works is based on totally outdated and inaccurate information!

In my mom’s experience, when my dad served in Viet Nam there wasn’t a formal network to get information to the spouses of those men serving in Viet Nam. The women were pretty much on their own. My mom got information about my dad from his squadron commander, only because the squadron commander was a good guy who understood that taking care of his people meant taking care of his people’s families. If my dad was able to call my mom to tell her anything, he would, but if he couldn’t call or if the information was of the type he couldn’t tell her; she was out of luck. Now my father’s unit was a small Air Force detachment stationed on a Navy Weapons Depot, so if the “big Air Force” had something institutionalized it may not have made it down to the detachments; but according to my mother, she wasn’t aware of any formalized program to support the spouses and families of deployed Airmen. Getting information to the spouses was a matter of who you knew and whether you could reach them.

For me, getting information was a bit different because I was also on active duty. I had the “dot.mil” connection and could make DSN calls. No problems.

FloridaGirl relied on the Marine Corps’ Key Volunteer Network. The program uses telephone chains (like recall rosters for us military types) to keep spouses up to date. It works! Although the Key Volunteer changed when Cpl DevilDog would arrive several times, the Key Volunteer always forwarded the information as soon as the Marine Corps told her what they knew. (And of course, we all know that the Marine Corps always knows what’s going on.) What’s important is that they’re trying. They’re making the effort. They’re recognizing that families are important. Just ask the pregnant wife of the Marine captured in the dramatic series of gun battle photos with the Taliban in Afghanistan. That wife told FOXNews that it was her Key Volunteer Network that helped her through the ordeal of seeing her husband reacting to very close call. So, in my internal game of telephone I’m changing my whispers to: I love the spouse’s information network!

UPDATE: Check out Cassandra's take on Milspouses at Villainous Company! She hits the nail squarely on its head!

2 comments:

fuzzy bear said...

I am so grateful that the military finally realize that the spouses of military personal are an important part of the military family.. I am also thankful for the technology that is available now. If my husband could call home while in Viet Nam it was through the ham networ. and the calls were few and far between and usually of poor quality. but thankgoodness for those ham operators. and thank God for all our special young people willing to serve their country in the military. They are a very special group of people.

Tin Ma'am said...

I hated hated hated being a military spouse. Funny enough, The only information i ever got from the spouse's club was when the next dumb "pampered chef" get together would be... to be fair, I'm no cook. I don't care to knit, scrapbook, get together for spa days or anything else they seemed to be interested in. So I probably outcast myself.

I got more information from my military friends than i ever did from the spouse's club.