What Being an AUSA Spouse Member Has Meant To Me
As an Army Spouse who got married later in life, after getting married I struggled a little bit. Having to learn all the acronyms, rank structure, protocol, etc. was overwhelming to say the least! I would be lying if I told you I didn’t cry and sometimes thought I had made a mistake. Being stationed in a different country made things that much harder.
I felt like I no longer had an identity of my own. It was bad enough growing up as “Juan’s Little Sister” now I was “So and So’s Wife”. No one cared what my Social Security Number was, they always wanted my husband’s. When asked for mine, I sometimes have to think about it since I barely use it. He is even the one that has to sign our daughter’s school paperwork since she is in a Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) school on post. Even with a power of attorney (POA) USAA still requires him to call and state he authorized the POA in good faith!
I slowly started to build a name for myself while volunteering with the FRG, and later became a Family Readiness Support Assistant (FRSA) and nicknamed “Garrison FRSA”. When people started to refer to my husband as “Jenny’s Husband”, I am not going to lie, it felt like I had won the identity war! In my mind, it was a small victory for spouses everywhere.
However, we received orders to move again. There I was, back to being “So and So’s Wife”. I waited a while to start volunteering, I knew I didn’t want to go back immediately so I could enjoy my free time while being there for both of our girls. When I was ready I jumped back into volunteering. While getting back into the swing of things I received a call for an awesome opportunity, serving on the first ever AUSA Spouse Advisory Group! I was a member of AUSA, liked their FB pages, and shared their information. However beyond that, I didn’t do much more with my membership. What would a stay at home mom have to offer such an awesome organization? My Identity!
I was selected to represent my peers and voice my opinions and concerns. In the short 6 months with the Spouse Advisory Group, I have been able to share locally things that are happening on the Hill, which affects not only my peers but all Soldiers and Families. I was given the opportunity to attend the AUSA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC and while there I attended the Military Family Forums where I heard our Army Senior Leaders Speak, and learn of a few programs for Soldiers and Families, such as Vets4Warriors, Soldier for Life, and Hiring Our Heroes just to name a few. I have been able to share all these wonderful programs with my Family Readiness Group (FRG), and other Military Families.
I have been able to fully understand the impact of sequestration and share what it truly means for Army Families. Recently I was asked by my local AUSA Chapter, AUSA Marne, to participate in a listening session with two Generals present where I spoke about what further troop drawdowns would mean to Army Families. Me, the stay at home mom! I am so thankful AUSA not only represents our Soldiers but also represents the spouses, giving us a voice and most importantly giving us an identity! AUSA supports me the Stay at Home Mom/ Volunteeraholic too!