Military spouses group provides support network for Families
May 22, 2013
Military spouses seeking social and philanthropic opportunities in their community created their own connections through the Military Spouses Group at Sangster Elementary School.
The group is organized and operated by military Families to provide a support system for spouses in the Fairfax County area. Some ways members support each other is by providing tips on local services, like food and automobile repair shops. The group also offers volunteer opportunities with children at Sangster Elementary School.
"This is a phenomenal group to be a part of," said Stacy Cheshire, Military Spouses Group president. "The women are really the heart and soul of the program as they provide a great support network for many people, myself included."
The MSG started in 2011 as a means for military spouses with children at Sangster Elementary School to connect socially. The group eventually expanded to conduct volunteering services within Sangster.
The MSG allows spouses to connect in what Cheshire describes as an unconventional duty station. Unlike other stations, the Washington D.C. area is filled with a higher population of civilians living amongst servicemembers and their Families. This makes it harder for military Families to identify with fellow servicemembers, Cheshire said. The Military Spouses Group at Sangster Elementary helps spouses make this connection.
"Sometimes you don't always find those relationships right away, which can make the transition tough," Cheshire said. "This is our way of coming together and supporting each other."
MSG activities include Family dinners, luncheons and preparing meals for deployed Soldiers. "This makes us stronger as a unit," Cheshire said of MSG activities. "We're all working together and providing a support network for transient (military) Families."
The group also works with Sangster Elementary School officials to host activities such as Veterans' Day ceremonies. The MSG also brings wounded Soldiers to the school's field day celebration and the Soldiers participate with the kids in sporting activities.
"It shows them the value of perseverance," said Isabel Maine, MSG member. "Some kids want to stop jogging during a mile run, but if they see a wounded Soldier presented with what can be a daunting situation, that gives kids motivation."
The MSG's interaction with Sangster provides multiple benefits, Maine said. For military spouses, the interaction provides philanthropic opportunities with their children and their community.
"As military spouses we come and go from location to location; it's hard to find a cause," Maine said. "This is a way to plug in."
The MSG's interaction with Sangster also introduces civilian students to the military. Maine describes the military Families living off post as part of an invisible community living amongst civilians. Civilian students may often see servicemembers in uniform but rarely interact. The MSG's collaboration with Sangster provides opportunities for that interaction.
"This gives them a deeper understanding of the community around them," Maine said of civilian students. "It helps them understand the military children they go to school with and it opens up the world around them."
The MSG accepts spouses from all service branches. Anyone interested in joining can contact the group for more details. Members can participate in the group's activities as their schedules permit, Cheshire said.
"We really try to keep people involved," Cheshire said, "no matter what affiliation they have with the military."
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