BELLEVUE, Washington - Spouses of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers participated in the initial iteration of what organizers hope to be many F.I.R.S.T. Spouse Mentorship Conferences at the Hilton hotel in Bellevue, Wash. on Sept. 8 - 9. The F.I.R.S.T. Spouse Mentorship program, which stands for "Friendship, Information, Resiliency, Support and Trust," focuses on taking care of 1st SFG (A) Soldiers' spouses to provide them an environment to thrive in.
Fifty spouses attended the exclusive event, which provided them the opportunity to build long-term organic connections and support networks. During the conference, spouses paired up, introduced one another, and listened to a panel of seasoned military spouses who offered words of wisdom in dealing with the ebb and flow of life in the Special Forces community.
For Jennifer Kappes who attended the event, she and her husband have been through it all in terms of both short and long deployments, and duty station changes.
"It's so important to listen to the spouses' stories, because it's amazing to learn from the things that other people have gone through that you haven't," she said. "I feel like I can give some type of helpful advice, and if not, then I hope I can point someone in the right direction."
In line with the program's motto "Bloom Where You've Planted," guest speaker Rhonda Shabazz, a 1st SFG (A) Family Advocacy Program Specialist, offered a rose to select participants and invited them to ponder methods of taking care of their rose like they would themselves in order to thrive.
Spouses enjoyed spending time getting to know each other more at the "Let's Flamingle Luau" on Saturday night, then engaged in deeper conversations the following morning during team presentations. The conference concluded with a Mindfulness session and Yin Yoga led by 1st. Lt. Colleen Seamands, a Social Work Intern at the 1st SFG (A) Embedded Behavioral Health.
"I'm a big advocate for mentorship," said Kristin Ray, wife of Group Commander Col. Owen G. Ray. "Sometimes you have spouses that don't have time to go out for coffee, and the mentorship program is that umbrella that will give you that connection between all the groups of spouses that want to get to know each other."
The F.I.R.S.T. Spouse Mentorship also holds monthly "Empower Hours" for spouses to meet and engage in unique, informative and engaging conversations to develop long-standing relationships.