Army Families Balance Grit and Growth

Army Families Balance Grit and Growth

Family Forum I at AUSA 2022 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. (Pete Marovich for AUSA)
Photo by: Pete Marovich for AUSA

As they navigate the ups and downs of military life, Army families need grit to persevere and grow through the various challenges they face, military family leaders said Oct. 10.

“I’ve had the opportunity to grow enormously and develop grit, even when I didn’t want to,” said Maria McConville, an Army veteran and spouse of Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Exposition. “So many Army families have always shown incredible grit, resilience, perseverance, creativity and adaptability, and I am so proud to be one of you and so proud of each one of you.” 

There are more than 2.5 million military family members across DoD, according to the Military OneSource 2020 demographics profile. More than 640,000 are family members of active-duty soldiers.  

As life presents challenges, military families need to be ready to adapt and engage in self-care, said Tawni Dixon, an Army spouse and a Soldier and Family Readiness support assistant for the 82nd Airborne Division. 

“What I've learned over the years of being a military spouse was that in order to do all the things like take care of my husband and my child and do things that I'm most passionate about, I have to have … self-care,” Dixon said during the military family forum titled “My Army Life–Grit, Growth and Balance.”

Resiliency and recovery are key to maintaining grit, said Brig. Gen. Deydre Teyhen, commanding general of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

“I’d like you to think about grit and resiliency a bit differently. … You can handle a situation, but then how well do you bring yourself down between that and the next one, so you have time to recover?” Teyhen said. “I want you to think about resiliency as recovery periods in between.” 

One resource available for spouses is the Army’s Spouse Development Office, which offers support for spouses to advance personally and professionally. 

“This was one of the reasons why our office was developed,” said Christina Love, director of Army University’s Spouse Development Office. “When we talk about employment and education, how are we equipping spouses in order to gain access to these positions? How can we ... ensure that we are providing these resources… so you’re smarter, stronger and you feel more resilient?” 

Grit, growth and balance for military families is not a linear journey. 

“Being an Army spouse for life, I’m still learning about grit, growth and balance,” said Holly Dailey, AUSA’s director of Family Readiness. 

— Karli Goldenberg