If you ask a military spouse to describe another group of military spouses who are organized together in settings such as an FRG, official Spouse Clubs, etc.,… you are likely to get a variety of answers, depending on the experiences of the individual you ask. We have all seen it before… typically the answer is unsolicited and accompanied by some long rant on a Facebook page, military spouse website, in a CDC or some other public setting on an installation. And I have heard it all when it comes to describing such groups. Things like:
“There’s no way I would go to one of those events with all them catty women.”
“All those people do is gossip.”
“It’s nothing but a bunch of elitists who think they wear rank.”
“My FRG leader sucks.” (Or better yet, “My FRG leader 7 years ago sucked so I won’t go”.)
And those are just the answers from the military wives. Leave it to the male military spouses to really spice things up. While I have never heard this sentence in its entirety come from one individual, please allow me to paraphrase some things I have heard collectively:
“Those things ain’t nothing but a bunch of crying, emotional, menstruating women breastfeeding while having some fancy tea. No thanks. Not for me.”
When I hear those things about organized spouse groups, I can’t help but cringe. Maybe I cringe because I came into military life a little older, wiser and more mature? Maybe it’s because I have been running with a different crowd of military spouses/mentors who have taught me differently? Or maybe because I choose to see each of those groups of people for what they are; a group of like-minded individuals with similarities that are coming together for a greater good.
Let’s look at an FRG for a moment. While some may see a bunch of chaotic organization that has no rhyme or reason, what is really happening is you have another military spouse (or other loving individual) who is just like you and me volunteering his or her time to serve the families of that unit. While some of these people in those volunteer leadership positions are very qualified to successfully lead the group with the unique dynamics it has, including the red tape handed down by the DoD, some aren’t. Some just have the absolute best intentions and are answering a call to volunteer because apparently no one else has stepped up.
And think about this: For most of us military spouses the bulk of our time being active in our FRG is while our spouse is deployed. That is stressful enough for us as it is, let alone being that volunteer FRG leader and having 60 other stressed out spouses (and family members) coming at him or her with questions they may or may not have answers to.
And those “spouses clubs”, what are they doing each year? How about raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to give right back to our military families. Most often the dollars any “official” Spouse Club raises goes directly back in to that local community.
Some of you may think I am wearing rose colored glasses, while riding a unicorn, gargling water from the fountain of youth and “tooting” sprinkles for thinking this way. I assure you I am not. I just so happen to do my best to look for the good in things. I am human too, so I can be critical at times (too often depending on who you ask), but I am learning to do it in moderation.
So…… What is it that comes to mind when you think of an organized group of military spouses? Are you being fair in your assessment of them?
Maybe a better list of questions would be:
How many families did your FRG reach during that last deployment?
How much money did your local Spouse Club raise and redistribute back into the families of their military community?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi