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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Transforming Army

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Transforming Army

That's what they kept telling us. The Army is transforming. The new priority is actually FAMILY. I just got back from the Battalion and Brigade Command Team Course. Yes, the Army actually offers the opportunity to prepare you for command...not just the one wearing the camouflage but the wife too! I was pleasantly surprised that I was not the only wife there. We even had one Battalion Command Sergeant Major's wife in attendance. The Army transformation is enlightening.

Believe it or not...or as much as I wanted to complain, because we know how we like to complain about how the Army does things....I was doing little of that here. I actually LEARNED something! In fact, I learned so much, I won't be able to talk about it in just one post! I even had to shift around some of my undies and socks to make room for some of the materials they loaded us down with. Not only did we get materials to help us out, but we got stuff for our family readiness group leaders, company commander's wives, wives interested in being part of the team and even resources for wives who don't want to be part of the unit scene.

Yes, the days were very structured. We had lecture after lecture, but we also had small group sessions with lots of feedback from each other. It was a big plus to have commanders and their wives there who already had their battalion command and were back for some more learning for their brigade command. I found myself being surrounded by some of the best and brightest the Army has to offer. I furiously scribbled notes whenever one of them had something to say...the information was that good.

So, what does this mean for all the rest of us wives and soldiers? It means the Army does actually prepare folks at this level. It also means they ask for their input. Our course actually changed from the last one...and the one before it too. My God, they actually listened to what WE had to say and will change the course as needed as it goes along.

At the other end of the spectrum, we had every general and leader of today's Army come and talk with us. I was amazed that the Chief of Staff of the Army...and his wife, the school commander and his wife, the Command Sergeant Major of the Army, as well as countless leaders of agencies such as Army Emergency Relief, the head Public Affairs Officer and even the guy who made heads rolls when he revamped Walter Reed and our broke medical system came to talk with us. The speakers were very generous with their time and encouraged us to speak....a rarity in the Army I knew before.

And those were just the joint sessions with our husbands. I know they had even more top level briefings and classes than we had. It was nice to see that wives were valued and included in many of the talks. Of course, the wives did have a big class in protocol taught by proper ladies in their best suits, and even with me being an Army brat and in the Army myself, I learned a few things. We took the Myers Briggs Personality Test, as well as two leadership tests. I learned I like to avoid conflict, but that I am somewhat flexible...tell me something I don't know, it was that scary that I can instantly be pegged like that. At one point, I thought I was eyeing for a degree in psychology with the sessions on dealing with conflict, group development, situational leadership, choices and challenges. Legal came and talked about all the "no-no's" and things to watch out for, as well as how to deal with the media. I was floored to find out that "no comment" is no longer encouraged. If you have something positive to say, and you know the facts keeping OPSEC in mind, you were encouraged to open your big mouth and spill the beans first, before the general media got wind of it and put their spin on!

We even had necessary talks that weren't any fun. I can tell you I shed a tear or two when we reviewed the procedures for a trauma in the unit and learned how dignified Army Casualty and Memorial Affairs goes about their business. The head of the Army Medical Action Plan was able to distract us from the sorrow at Walter Reed and with our wounded soldiers by talking about the sauce they put on you during ultrasounds and the sanitary napkin that has been a first aid kit for soldiers for many decades now among other things. What a dynamic speaker he was. The new first aid kit actually has some useful stuff in it..including a "stick" for the tourniquet, since you won't find that in any desert.

And this was just the official stuff. Many of us came without the kiddies, and even though the days were exhausting...who would've thought sitting on your butt all day would exhaust husband and I had lunch together every day and when class was out, we spent lots of time together...just me and often does that happen?! So, for those of you who are heading to command with your spouse..go to the course. We even had one male spouse join us ladies, so that is no excuse not to go. The course is valuable and will help you prepare. For those of you not going, you will still benefit if your commander's wife goes along too. Also breathe a sigh of relief , that even though the Army realizes it is stretched thin, the one thing I heard over, and over and over that the family is the #1 priority. Yes, the mission is important, but if we lose the families, we lose the soldier...period. And we can't allow that to happen. Many Army programs and systems have already made some changes to put family first...again, this is not the Army I knew....and look forward to more positive and family-friendly changes coming thru the pipeline in the future.



Blogger liberal army wife said...

boy oh boy.. do I hope this trickles down...


December 4, 2007 at 1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've seen a little of this down at our unit. I hope more is on the way!

December 4, 2007 at 3:04 PM  

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