By Jack Wiers, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 18, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Under the theme "Celebrate! Unity & Friendship," spouses from all service branches in Hawaii will gather, here, for a day of personal and professional development during the revamped 15th Annual Joint Military Spouses Conference, Oct. 16.
More than 70 workshops ranging from personal finance, health and fitness, Hawaiiana, family and the creative arts should make for an exciting one-day event with an expected attendance of more than 350.
This year's conference schedule will be compressed into a single day event.
"We felt we could offer an excellent conference, and reduce volunteer stress, by scheduling workshop presenters and attendees to a single day event," said conference director Cathy Van Dyken.
Patricia Shinseki, Kauai native and 38-year military spouse, will present the keynote speech.
A teacher with a master's degree from Columbia, Shinseki, wife of Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff and current U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will share special insights as a member of the Board of Directors of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC).
She also serves as chair of the MCEC's "Living in the New Normal: Supporting Children through Trauma and Loss" initiative.
The daylong event, hosted by the Army for the first time since 2005, will kick off at 8:15 a.m. at the Nehelani, Schofield Barracks.
The $35 registration fee gives participants the opportunity to attend six workshops (the same as previous years) and provides three meals. The deadline to register to attend is Monday, Sept. 21.
"Our research and observations from past years, in addition to the enthusiastic feedback from spouses from other services, support this format of one full day rather than two," said Van Dyken.
Another well-received new element this year will be free child care. Spaces are limited and priority will be provided to participants with deployed military spouses.
The revamped conference comes under the guidance of Rhonda Mixon, U.S. Army-Pacific's senior spouse advisor.
"With so many volunteers and participants stretched thin during this time of deployment, we are pleased to offer free child care to our participants for the first time," said Mixon.
"The theme of the conference perfectly expresses our conference goals," Mixon added. "In this eighth year of the (war), we are eager to celebrate the special role military spouses contribute to our country, our military and our families, and we also want to recognize the many hats spouses wear in modern society, as professionals, partners and as parents," said Mixon.
The event ends at 5:50 p.m. with a dinner reception, and child care ends at 7:30 p.m. Military spouses of all ranks and service branches are welcome to attend.
The conference registration deadline is Sept. 21. To register for workshops and child care, visit www.jschawaii.com.