Spouse support group focuses on handling transitions
Seminar held as part as Employment Readiness Program
By Lisa R. Rhodes
But for military spouses, who must deal with their spouse's frequent new assignments, the transition can be especially difficult.
Belinda Gordon-Battle, the installation's Adult and Military Family Life consultant at Army Community Service, gave a presentation on managing life's transitions to a small gathering of military spouses on June 20 at Potomac Place Neighborhood Center.
The hourlong seminar was hosted by the Fort Meade Military & Spouse Employment Support Group, which is part of the Employment Readiness Program at ACS.
The support group's co-facilitators are Vikki Torrence, Employment Readiness Program manger, and Jamesinaez James, Employment Readiness specialist.
"The purpose of the support group is to help military spouses, military personnel and DoD civilians and their dependents, who are transitioning out of the military or their jobs, network for new employment opportunities in a safe and professional environment," said James, who started the support group in November 2011.
During the presentation, Battle said transitions are an inevitable part of life, but they can become a source of stress when people try to resist change.
"Your life maybe changed in your transition, but it does not mean you are defeated," Gordon-Battle said. "You must think 'I'm going to find a way to grow from this experience.' "
Gordon-Battle said life transitions happen more often for military spouses who are often responsible for finding new housing, new schools and new medical providers for their families when their service-member spouse is reassigned to a new military base or position.
Many military spouses also must find new jobs or change careers. Gordon-Battle said some military spouses decide to put their careers on hold while their mate is on active duty.
"It does take a lot of flexibility to be a spouse," Gordon-Battle said. "Somehow, you manage your family, your career, in order to achieve your goals and the goals for your family."
Gordon-Battle said the best way to handle a transition is for the spouse to have a plan for his or her next step and to prioritize goals.
She said if a military spouse is looking for a new job or to change careers during a permanent change of station, the spouse should contact the Employment Readiness Program at the couple's next military base and start the process for finding employment.
"What resources are available to make your transition?" Gordon-Battle asked. "It is a matter of having the confidence and self-assurance to make a smooth transition."
Support group member Monica Smith, wife of Spc. Dametry Smith who is assigned to the Pentagon, said she and her spouse have experienced many transitions during their 13-year marriage.
"We're at the midpoint in his career," she said. "We're getting to that time when we should know what to look for."
After working as an elementary school teacher's assistant, Smith is now attending Anne Arundel Community College to pursue an associate's degree in business management. She said she wants a new career that is portable -- that will earn an income no matter where her husband is reassigned in the future.
Smith said Gordon-Battle and the support group have helped her realize that there are many options available to military spouses who are transitioning in their careers. For example, she learned about MilitaryOneSource, a website designed for service members and their families.
Before ending her presentation, Gordon-Battle said it is important to make one's faith or spiritual beliefs a priority during a life transition and to keep the lines of communication open with one's spouse.
"Don't lose sight of your personal mission," she advised. "It's all a work in progress."
Editor's note: For more information, call Army Community Service at 301-677-5590.
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