Spousal support is the backbone of Soldier support. The Chaplains' wives at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, supported their spouses and added some fun at this year's May meeting, which included a fun-filled Retro Party with a 1950s theme.
Before the fun began, the Chaplains wives had put a lot of daily effort and time into supporting their husbands, welcoming new spouses to the team, and making their transition a pleasant experience.
"Spousal support means that within the context of this great big Army machine, I have a role as the spouse of my Soldier/Chaplain," said Kimberly Wead, spouse of Chaplain (LTC) Sean Wead. "I can choose to support my husband and embrace this life, or not. I have always chosen to not only embrace the life, but welcome it! I try to stay involved and make a difference. I attend everything -- newcomer briefings, Senior Leader Spouses Meetings, changes of command, PWOC Bible study, monthly Unit Ministry Team (UMT) coffee groups, and everything in between. It's a ministry of presence for chaplains and their spouses. Like many, many Army spouses, I've chosen to be present."
The UMT spouses at Fort Campbell take their role seriously. Being a Chaplain spouse means commitment to service and support. "The UMT spouses at Fort Campbell are richly blessed," Wead said. "We have a tremendous group of ladies that want to be involved in the UMT! We're looking forward to welcoming all of our new families that are arriving, and saying farewell to those that are in transition to new assignments. The hail-and-farewell will be in July at the Stones Manor House. We'll have a barbecue, potluck, pool party, bounce house, and a game show with couples competing against each other in answering questions about their marriages! We're really trying to have FUN with our spouses here at Fort Campbell.
"We also will host events in the fall that allow our spouses to check out some of the facilities on post," Wead said. "Sandy Murphy, our Senior Division Chaplain Spouse, had a brilliant idea of making the connections between our UMT spouses and the agencies that make a difference in our lives. We go to the various agencies for our coffee group meetings! We have a brand-new USO and hope to host a coffee group there, and over a meal we will be briefed by a USO representative.
"Lastly, we have spouses that meet all the time for bi-weekly deployed spouses lunches, playdates, walking-trail hikes, and crafting," Wead said. "There really is always something to do, and someone to do it with. We use our local UMT Facebook page to communicate what's going on, and reach out to UMT newcomers."
Finding balance is important, and Wead shared details about the 1950s-themed Retro Party on 1 May.
"Amie Fisher (wife of Chaplain Ron Fisher) and I hosted the event," Wead said. "If you want to have an over-the-top experience, you must include Amie Fisher in whatever you host! She's fabulous and brings tons of ideas, props and energy! For our 1950s Retro Party, we sent out an Evite: '1950s Housewives Party and Potluck' to some 60 spouses! We had nearly 40 in attendance -- all spouses, no Chaplains. That night was all about the dress! We told spouses that we'd have door prizes for the best dressed, the most original food dish from the 1950s (lime Jell-O mold with pineapple, tater-tot casserole, pound cake, and fried chicken) and also a prize for the most unique piece of Tupperware from the era.
"It went over beautifully," Wead said. "It was so much fun to watch the ladies put their 'chin up, shoulders back', and walk across the room with an 'Emily Post Etiquette Book' on top of their head! I think the fact that it was a themed party went over really well. I'm already thinking about the next one that we'll have geared toward "all things shopping", but without any money exchanging hands."
Being a military spouse is about service, support, and community, and the Chaplains' wives do not take their role lightly. Wead was excited to detail her experience as a Chaplain spouse.
"My experience as an Army Chaplain spouse has been one of extreme gratefulness for the past 17 years," she said. "We are so richly blessed to be in an instant community of support wherever we move. Unit Ministry Team spouses know how to make genuine connections, network, ask for help, and offer a hand. They are some of the kindest people that make up our Army families. They truly have a servant's heart, and the calling that God has placed on their lives is evident by their willingness to make those all-important investments in their families and friendships.
"We serve in a different capacity than that of our Soldier, but it's uniquely ours, and we're all different in how we approach our ministries in the military," Wead said. "Our corps is also small enough that we sometimes get a double blessing with the opportunity to serve alongside some of our closest friends at other assignments. We just pick up right where we left off and join in making our UMT group a great experience!"