FORT LEE, Va. – Returning after a four-year hiatus, the Fort Lee Spouses Symposium Sept. 14 at the Lee Club proved once again the power of positive interaction.
More than 55 attendees were onsite to partake in moments of not only connecting with relevant, military spouse-specific information, but one another. This year’s theme was “Military Spouses, Resilient and Encouraged,” or M.R.E. for short.
“This event is all about connectedness,” observed one of the Army Community Service facility organizers. “It’s about providing our Fort Lee spouses with information to assist them with connecting more with themselves, with their families, with their community, and with programs and services designed specifically for them.”
Fifteen information and outreach tables lined the inner hallway of the Lee Club. Participants were greeted by representatives from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; BrightPoint Community College; the Army Women’s Museum; the USO; the Fort Lee Commissary and many other on-post organizations.
The symposium also featured numerous information sessions prior to and following the free lunch that was served. During a talk titled “It’s the Benefits for Me,” attendees received an overview of Humana health programs for Tricare East members. A subject matter expert touched on referral management and how that program focuses on continuity of specialty care within and across the Tricare region.
In another presentation, Virginia Military Spouse Liaison Kayla LaFond discussed her role in the commonwealth’s Department of Veterans Services where she is an advocate for military spouses and service member families. She shared the work her organization is doing to continue making Virginia a military-friendly state. LaFond is one of only two military spouse liaisons in the country, with her counterpart located in Washington State.
Also in attendance at the symposium was the Secretary of Defense’s Associate Director of Military Support Programs, Kelly Smith. Among her many duties, she serves as the program manager for Military OneSource, a self-service platform with links, resources and assistance tools for all aspects of military life.
“A top reason people reach out to Military OneSource is for our Spouses Education and Career Opportunities program, also known as SECO,” Smith noted. “The second reason is for our confidential, non-medical counseling services, followed by our adoption services.”
When Smith asked what those in the room do for self-care, Fort Lee Spouse Rose Daly said, “I come to things like this.”
Subsequently noting that she just got married the previous Tuesday – an announcement that drew an enthusiastic round of applause – Daly said, “We just got our house Monday. It’s been insane, but coming here, to things like this, it’s what helped me to slow down. Making connections with the faces … that’s what it’s about. … There is so much available.”
The day continued with lots of laughs and learning from a Fort Lee senior spouse Q & A panel. Another session titled “Remaining Resilient and Ready” showed spouses how to “hunt the good stuff.” A presentation titled “No Wrong Door Approach” had spouses engaging in an all-hands-on-deck activity to demonstrate how stress and communication challenges can affect quality of life and relationships. During a talk on the subject “Who Can I Run To,” attendees were familiarized with personal support activities such as the Religious Services Office and Military Family Life Counselors, or MFLCs as they’re commonly called.
“[All of this] was good, good information,” summed up spouse Danny Cisneros as the event drew to a close. “All the briefers, the information … it was a good day.”
Community members are encouraged to follow ACS on social media at www.facebook.com/fortleearmycommunityservice to stay informed about upcoming classes and special activities that promote interaction, learning and positive life at Lee experiences. A recording of the recent spouse symposium also is available on the social media page.