By By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs Office June 20, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- During a visit to U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, June 2, Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, met with more than 20 Family Readiness Group leaders of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and 172nd Infantry Brigade to discuss issues pertaining to the military family.
“I’m here to get the real scoop,” said Dempsey, emphasizing the word real. “Military spouses are abrupt and honest; they are the pulse of the community and will tell you the good and bad of what’s going on.”
Dempsey sat alongside a panel of additional senior spouses including Sue Hertling, wife of Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe; Martina Salazar, wife of Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar, commanding general of the Joint Multinational Training Command; and Tamara Smiley, wife of Col. Vann Smiley, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr.
The senior spouses listened carefully as FRG leaders and spouses explained various woes including the lack of efficient child care on post and employment challenges.
The conversation flowed effortlessly, and as each concern was raised, Dempsey candidly asked questions while her advisor took notes. Dempsey said she would bring these issues back to her husband.
“Now that he’s in a position to actually do something with these concerns my role is to be a conduit between you and (him),” Dempsey told the crowd.
Dempsey has been a part of the Army family for 35 years. Her husband began his career after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1974 and married Deanie, his high school sweetheart, two years later. Additionally, their three children have all served in the Army. Christopher, their only son, remains on active duty.
Dempsey empathized with the leaders, stating her long-standing career as a military spouse and mother has given her the knowledge and voice to make the changes necessary to ensure the health and well-being of Army families everywhere. She said hearing the concerns of military spouses in an intimate forum was invaluable for successful developments in the future.
Carla Blackburn, Family Readiness Group senior advisor for 2SCR, agreed.
“She can do something, she has the power and a voice,” said Blackburn. “But she’s only as good as the information she receives, which is why these spouse forums are so important.”
“Soldiers give their perspectives on Army life to their chain of command, and these forums give spouses a chance to give our perspectives on Army family life,” added Melissa Spiszer, FRG senior advisor for Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels. “It validates what we have to say - our concerns and praises.”
The floor was not shy as the forum continued, addressing the current budget crisis and what that means for family programs. Dempsey stated spouses needed to “manage expectation and communication” as budget cuts and hiring freezes impede new programming.
“Family programs will not suffer, but we may need to consolidate and work with what we have,” said Dempsey, adding that new programs may be halted, but revamping existing programs to serve the community better could be more beneficial.
“Regardless, we will always take care of our spouses and family,” said Dempsey. “Because everyone knows we’re pretty darn special.”