Holly and I get these kinds of emails frequently as a mom stumbles on our website. We often get emails from spouses themselves (or their military member). “Help! I’m new to the military, I’m struggling, I don’t know where to turn.” Or “I’m deployed; we just moved to X base; my wife is struggling; how can I help her?”
We send a list of resources, ideas, contacts. We tell them about the family service center that each base/post has. We talk about the “Military 101” type courses that each service has. We ask specifically where they are located in case we know someone personally we can connect them with.
You are not alone.
What we really want to do is to give them a hug and sit down with them and share everything we know to ease their journey.
We’ve pulled our hair out trying to figure out “How can we make sure that every new spouse finds out about the many incredible resources right away? How can we show them that they are not alone?”
Former Marine spouse Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito had a similar experience.
She received a phone call from a young military spouse who was facing several military life challenges. “We sent her a variety of books and suggested community resources,” says Pavlicin‐Fragnito, an author and publisher herself, “but I really wanted to invite that young woman to my kitchen table, to have lunch or coffee or dessert with a handful of other military spouses who understand her life.”
At a spouse summit sponsored by Military.com in April 2013, Pavlicin‐Fragnito spent two days gathered around tables, listening to military spouses recount stories and lessons learned from around the world. Many of those spouses regularly write or talk about their experiences on social media, in published books and columns, at workshops, or on the radio.
Let’s do lunch.
“I wanted to invite them all to have lunch with that young spouse—and with other military families, new and seasoned—to laugh, cry, lend insight, and tell stories,” she says.
“A book seemed like a great venue for a gathering of that scope.” The first person at the summit she invited to the literary table was Stars and Stripes columnist Terri Barnes, a longtime Air Force spouse.
Barnes not only contributed a story, she agreed to manage the project. That’s how the new book debuting October 1 from Elva Resa Publishing, was born.
Stories Around the Table: Laughter, Wisdom, and Strength in Military Life, is a collection of personal stories from more than forty military family writers, including spouses, parents, children, and service members.
Holly and I are thrilled to be two of those contributors. We are very excited about this book.
One of the reasons we wrote Military Spouse Journey: Discover the Possibilities & Live Your Dreams (militaryspousejourney.com) was to put in one place many of the concepts and resources we want to share. We certainly couldn’t extensively cover other aspects of military life in any depth, from moves to redeployments to parenting.
And quite frankly, there were other issues that didn’t fall into our scope, things like dealing with tragedy or navigating the military system for your special needs child.
How to navigate military life.
Stories Around the Table covers a wider range of experiences, with more than forty military family authors telling their personal stories and offering guidance and encouragement from what they’ve learned.
It puts in one place the viewpoints of so many different military members, gives a new spouse one place to connect to so many different experts (the REAL experts…other military family members just like themselves but who have a few years of experience under their belt.)
“Nearly everyone we invited enthusiastically agreed to participate,” says Barnes. “These authors transparently shared wisdom from their lives, gained through tragedy, trial and error, and both everyday and extraordinary circumstances.”
Much as we’d all love to sit around one big table with you…and with all these contributors, that isn’t so possible in our military world. Heck, Holly and I have both worked with many of these contributors over the years, sharing resources and contacts, and have never once met some of them in person.
Making it a reality.
Five of us, Holly, Jacey Eckhart, Terri Barnes, Kristin Henderson and I, did meet one day. We sat around a table in the Pentagon City food court, talking and laughing for hours. Sharing, sharing, sharing.
“This is like the tv show The View,” I said at one point, “Only it would be The Military Spouse View. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to have as a resource to all spouses?! Like pulling them all up to the table with us.”
Consider this book that big virtual table, inviting you to sit down to laugh, cry and learn from other military family members who might just be able to save you from struggling, from learning things the hard way. You can check out the table of contents and contributing writers at StoriesAroundTheTable.com.
The tag line in the table of contents says it all: Our Specialty: Encouraging words and sound advice from friends.
You really don’t have to traverse this challenging military life alone.