We read so much about the stresses and strains nearly a decade of war has put on our troops. Army boosters are formally acknowledging something just as important: spouses face challenges when their significant other deploys, too.
That’s why the Walter Reed Army Medical Center has just launched a “Significant Others Support Group” that brings stay-at-home spouses to Washington for a week of basic training in how to deal with their husbands’ multiple deployments and the combat stresses many bring home with them. They’re taught resilience skills that help them grapple with the challenges, along with meditation and acupuncture.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says such help is vital. “The focus of boot camp or basic is oftentimes just the soldier, not the family — that’s not acceptable from my perspective,” he said earlier this week. “We have got to start building resilience across the board in our men and women, as well as the families, from day one.”
The 11 members — 10 wives and a fiancee — in the initial Significant Others Support Group spent five days immersed in studying how combat affects families far from the front lines, and what to do when their soldiers comes home. It’s amazing how destructive war can be on families, especially when the same troops are deployed over and over again. So it’s great to see the Army giving spouses the tools to deal with these issues, even if it took $35,000 from the non-profit Walter Reed Society to get it off the ground.