By Emily Brainard, Army Flier StaffMay 13, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Military spouses - the men and women who support their servicemembers and the nation behind the scenes - received recognition here May 7 during the annual Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
To help Fort Rucker spouses become more resilient and thrive in busy lifestyles, Army Community Service staff hosted an event incorporating health, education, music, dance and do-it-yourself projects at The Commons in Bldg. 8950.
"Military spouses are maintaining a strong homefront for our Soldiers," said Beth Arnold, ACS Information and Referral Program manager.
The ACS celebration included various workshop segments to help spouses become well-rounded in maintaining personal health and gaining skills to become self-sufficient during periods of separation from their servicemembers, she noted.
"They do things most spouses never have to do. They have to be everybody (when their servicemembers are deployed)," Arnold said.
Lisa Pratt, winner of the 2009 Operation Rising Star singing contest, was also present to encourage and entertain fellow Fort Rucker spouses. The wife of Capt. Matt Pratt, who is currently an Aviation Captains Career Course student here, performs for military Families in support of the Army Family Covenant.
Pratt has been an Army spouse for four years and knows the challenges her peers face.
Supporting those who support servicemembers is key to a successful force, she said.
"We always make the joke, 'if the wife isn't happy, the Soldier isn't happy,'" Pratt said. "Through the Army Family Covenant, the Army is staying true to the fact that behind that Soldier is a good (spouse)."
Spouses take on many household roles, especially during deployments, Pratt added.
"Our job is unique and probably one of the hardest" compared to civilian counterparts, she said.
Pratt encouraged spouses to make time for themselves, between caring for children, friends, Families and servicemembers. For her, that means pursuing her passion for singing.
"Don't give up on your life," she said. "Go after what you want."
Another personal goal might be higher education. Achieving degrees can be meaningful for spouses who want to develop themselves as individuals, according to June Snellgrove, marketing representative for Huntingdon College.
"Don't allow life circumstances to tear you down and tell you 'you can't do it,'" she said.
Some spouses said they appreciated post and Wiregrass community members taking the time to honor their dedication.
Erica Geranen has been married to her husband for eight years. He is currently a warrant officer candidate. She asked the public to take the day to remember the sacrifices spouses make and understand the unique, yet rewarding lifestyle the military provides Families.
Being married to Soldiers puts men and women in unique positions, said Marie Stallworth, an Army wife of almost 20 years and the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group Family readiness support assistant.
"As spouses, we're more than just that. It seems like we're limited to that phrase, (but) our positions in the home are so important, especially with the Soldiers being deployed as much as they are," she said. "It's key to be recognized for all the things that we do to keep the households running in their absence. We (also) make connections with other Families, strengthening each other and becoming that connected, united chain. I love being a military spouse. To be able to work with military Families is an added bonus for me."
Sears representatives also participated in the event, performing tool demonstrations with motor saws, air compressors, tractors, weed eaters, lawn mowers, screwdrivers and other basic tools. They taught spouses how to use the equipment to perform household tasks, according to Beverly Burton, Dothan Sears store general manager.
Training like this is useful because some husbands and wives may not be familiar with maintaining yards, fixing leaky faucets or replacing doorknobs, she said.
"This is our way of giving back," she said. "(Spouses) are selfless servers. They serve without question. They're doing it because they want to."
While Stallworth has conducted numerous do-it-yourself repairs while living alone, she said the class and taking home a tool chest door prize gave her two kinds of "tools" - the literal metal ones, as well as knowledge to help her become even more independent.
"The tools we received today were tools to empower us to grow and add to our tool boxes," she said. "It only makes us stronger."
Husbands and wives have been supporting their servicemembers for more than 235 years, according to an article at www.army.mil. The Friday before Mother's Day was proclaimed the official appreciation day 26 years ago by then-President Ronald Reagan, according to the site.