By U.S. ArmySeptember 22, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation treated the spouses of Fort Wainwright Soldiers to something special when Tara Crooks and Starlett Henderson, hosts of the radio show Army Wife Network, came to town Sept. 15 and 16.
Crooks and Henderson (also known as Army Wife Network's Lipstick 6 and XO) were here to present two "Field Exercises" titled "Priceless Packages" which, while open to any military spouse, was geared towards the spouses of deployed Soldiers. The seminar was designed to provide them with tools to deal with the deployment and to pamper them for a day with gift bags, door prizes and a meal that they did not have to cook or clean up after.
"We wanted to do something for our Families, for the spouses of deployed Soldiers," said Denise Mitchell, Army Community Service division chief.
"I am so thankful that Tara and Star agreed to come over here and put on this event," she said. "They are going to have a wonderful time, just getting a chance to mingle with each other. These types of events bring these Families out, show what is available, they become friends with other people, develop a whole new friendship."
Crooks and Henderson tag themselves as interactive empowerment for Army wives. They have a radio show, a website (www.armywifenetwork.com), an online advice column entitled "Field Problems" (which can be found on their website) and the "Field Exercises."
"What we mean by interactive empowerment is for all of these Army wives to join together and share information, resources and empower each other, via interactively, via social media, via podcast and our radio show, and our websites, all of these different things," Crooks said.
"The bigger our network grows the more information and resources we have to empower," she said.
"It all came together under one roof when social media started," she said. "We said, oh, this is a good thing and we should probably be a part of this. It was a hobby at that point, and we needed a business plan, so we formed Army Wife Network."
Army Wife Network is based on Army Wife Talk Radio. As Crooks interviewed subject matter experts for an array of subjects, she started to gather the information and wanted a place to share it with other Army spouses and encourages others to take advantage of what can be found on their website.
Crooks took a moment to offer advice for new military spouses so that they could not just survive, but thrive in the military environment. First was to reach out to the command or their Family Readiness Group, because that is where they would get their official information from. Then to connect themselves with another person, because no one can face a deployment alone.
"Deployment is hard. Multiple deployments are even harder. On Families, on Soldiers, on their spouses. she said. "Everyone is like, done it, over it."
To get through it she says that "Everyone needs a battle buddy. Whatever it is you do, whatever it is that you like to do as a hobby, if you like to volunteer, connect yourself to just one person, because if each one of us can get just one, we will each have someone to go through this journey with. You cannot do this alone and unless your family is military, they don't know what it is you're going through."
"If you can't find that person right here where you are, then reach out online. That is where a lot of the younger, newer Army spouses are, is online."
"I hope that is what we have given them (Army spouses) is a way to connect."