WIESBADEN, Germany - "Service does not end with the person wearing the uniform."

That quote by first lady Michelle Obama was cited at Wiesbaden's Military Spouse Extravaganza May 5 as a reminder that spouses, too, play a vital role in the military.

"We wanted to do something big, fun and educational," said Jan Meert, Army Community Service director, about the day-long event held in the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center.

Gen. Carter Ham, U.S. Army Europe commander, and his wife, Christi, helped kick off the event with a personal look at military life describing the constant changes, deployments and impacts on their family life.

"Like most military families we've been through good and bad," said USAREUR's commander.

"I've had IEDs blow up around me - that doesn't count as real stress," he said. "Real stress is having to do a briefing with Christi Ham."

The touch of humor from a family that has served for some three decades with the U.S. Army was appreciated by the more than 80 participants who had an opportunity to listen, learn about various services and opportunities, and share a day packed with different speakers.

"We all know that behind every great Soldier is a great spouse," said Gen. Ham.

Spouses and other guests listened intently as Christi described the Ham's journey through Army life - the stress of family separation, purchasing their first home and the challenges and highlights of living.

"As we look back we can see how the Army really does truly focus on families now," said Gen. Ham, citing the benefits of the Army Family Covenant and a three percent increase in spending on Army family support. "

Military Spouse Appreciation Day is your day to take care of yourself," added Christi.

Before enjoying a host of topics, spouses had a chance to chat with the Hams and share their military family stories.

"I thought it was wonderful," said Amelia Jochims, about the keynote speeches. "I could relate with 99 percent of what they said."

Spouses were able to select from various sessions including among others, "Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti," "Building Healthy Marriages," "Cupcakes Made Easy" and "Effective Communication."

"I liked the active participation," said Laurel Frock, about one of the workshops.

A midday lunch featured wraps, pasta and pastries.

Raffles drawings throughout the day offered the chance to win prizes including gift cards, gift baskets, massages, rounds of golf, savings bonds and a trip to France.

"I enjoyed it," said Paul Mingo, whose husband is deployed. "Being new to the community, this was my first outing. It was well put together and informative."

"We got such good feedback," said the ACS director, "we have to do it again next year."

Page last updated Wed May 19th, 2010 at 05:52