Two Belvoir military spouses visit White House
November 7, 2013
A pair of military spouses living on Fort Belvoir visited the White House Oct. 31 to talk to first lady Michelle Obama about life as a military dependent.
Solana Higdon and Amy Shields participated in a two-hour military-spouse roundtable discussion in the Map Room. A total of nine military spouses, representing every branch of the military, spoke about their challenges and triumphs.
Higdon and Shields were honored by the invitation to the White House.
"It was definitely surreal," Higdon said. "It was so unexpected and I'm extremely grateful."
Jennifer Wilder, Belvoir Officer Spouses Club scholarship chair, notified both Higdon and Shields in early October that they were nominated for invitation consideration. Both of them answered five questions, and their responses were reviewed before a formal invitation was extended.
Higdon serves as the vice president of the Belvoir Enlisted Spouses Club. She was the scholarship chair for part of last year after arriving on post in March 2012. She led a committee that successfully secured 501 (c) (3) status for the organization this year. Higdon is also a certified Army Family Team Building class instructor.
Shields is the Web and Facebook administrator for Fort Belvoir's Protestant Women of the Chapel group. In the past, she served as the advertising chair of BOSC and is still a member of the organization. Shields also helps out with the weekly Bible study for AWANA, a religious education program for children and youth. She arrived on Fort Belvoir about two-and-a-half years ago.
First Lady Obama sponsored the roundtable to facilitate a discussion about being a military spouse, said Rory Brosius, deputy director of Joining Forces, in an email. Joining Forces is a White House-initiative designed to help people honor servicemembers and their Families. Michelle Obama is always interested in getting to know military spouses and hearing about their unique experiences, Brosius said.
Michelle Obama was very warm during the roundtable, Shields said. The military spouses had plenty of opportunities to talk about their experiences and to suggest various solutions to many recurring problems.
"She was engaged," Shields said of the first lady. "She really listened and seemed concerned."
Shields talked about the personal challenges she dealt with when her husband went from being an Army Reservist to an active-duty Soldier. She also learned a lot from the other military spouses who spoke during the roundtable.
Higdon said that Michelle Obama made her feel like her voice was being heard. She said all of the spouses did a great job of talking about various challenges during the roundtable. White House staff members welcomed any suggestions for easing the concerns of the military spouses. Higdon is a stay-at-home mom and talked about her unique experiences.
Higdon and Shields did not get a chance to meet Bo, the Obama Family's pet dog during the roundtable, Shields said. However, after the event they both went trick-or-treating at the White House.