MOAA Interview: Creating Pride & Grit, a Community of ‘Seasoned Spouses’

MOAA Interview: Creating Pride & Grit, a Community of ‘Seasoned Spouses’
Jennifer Pasquale (Courtesy photo)

By Jennifer Goodale


Meet Jennifer Pasquale, an entrepreneur, a 15-year Army (and proud Redleg) spouse and mom of two teenagers. She spent a total of 18 years pursuing career goals as an independent instructional designer and corporate trainer. But, while stationed in Germany in 2015, she turned away from her corporate roots and leaned into volunteering, finding a new passion as a military spouse advocate and leading her to develop the Pride & Grit community.


MOAA had the opportunity to sit down with her for a Q-and-A session to gain insight on her journey.


Q. How did the Pride & Grit community come to fruition? 


 A. In 2016, I experienced a heartbreaking miscarriage. I was a senior spouse, serving as a battalion [Family Readiness Group] adviser. I didn't know how to be the one who was broken, but I was. I saw myself as the support giver, not the receiver. So, I grieved and recovered in silence. And as I recovered, I realized I wasn't the only one who thought being strong meant hiding struggle. I became acutely aware of how important it was to share my story and the stories of fellow spouses.


In 2018, I founded Pride & Grit as an online community for military spouses to spearhead an honest conversation about military life's cumulative impact on spouses and families. Through storytelling, interviews, and resources, Pride & Grit has inspired spouses to share their experiences, both the high points and the low points, so that we can all grow stronger – together.


Q. Who is the audience for Pride & Grit?


A. Initially, I wanted to serve all military spouses. And in many ways, our stories and interviews can resonate with anyone. But, in 2019, I began to realize there were programs and resources for new spouses or spouses of deployed servicemembers. Still, very few were dedicated to seasoned spouses' unique challenges, particularly those on the path toward their servicemember's retirement. Therefore, I began to design programing around this smaller pocket within the military spouse community.


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Q. Why do you think this cohort of military spouses needs specific/specialized attention? What unique challenges do they face?


A. I've interviewed dozens of seasoned military spouses over the last year, in addition to surveying my audience. One thing was clear: many seasoned spouses are tired.


Do they enjoy this life? Often, yes. But, there is a cumulative impact of living a military-connected life that simply takes time to show up. For spouses feeling that weight, rarely are there places to talk about that impact without being perceived as negative or unsupportive. I believe being heard has the single most significant impact on anyone's ability to move forward. There is comfort in acknowledging a shared struggle, and that is what this unique audience shares.


If this community can provide a space for spouses to be heard, see their struggle in others, receive tools and perspectives that help them emerge stronger, why not offer it?


Additionally, when looking at these challenges, a servicemember's retirement transition is definitely a challenge unique to the seasoned spouse community. What I've heard from seasoned spouses is a desire to invest in themselves, redefine or rediscover their personal or professional identity, and strengthen or repair their service-marriage – all so they can set their own family up for success before the stressful process of transitioning to civilian life. Our inaugural Evolve retreat provides this opportunity.


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Q. Who is the target audience for the retreat, and what can attendees expect from this event?

A. The Evolve retreat is a 10-hour, live, virtual event divided over April 17 and 18. This event focuses on this audience's key challenges – personal identity, marriage, and family.


On Day One, each of three keynote addresses will be followed by small group discussions led by a military-connected life coach.

  • Patrice Carter, Certified Life Coach and military spouse, will open the event with a Personal Identity talk.
  • "Doc" Shauna Springer, Psychologist and Military Transition & Relationships Expert, will lead our Marriage & Transitions session.
  • Ingrid Herrera-Yee, Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health Expert, and military spouse, will conduct our discussion about the cumulative impact of service on our families.


On Day Two, we’ll be spending four hours with military spouse and clinician Corie Weathers (LPC, NCC) in a Strengths Finder workshop. Corie will take us through the CliftonStrengths assessment and help attendees understand their talents and how they show up in military life. Each attendee will take the full assessment, covering 34 themes, as part of their purchased event pass.


Q. What is the cost to attend?


A. The cost of the two-day pass is $147 which includes the CliftonStrengths assessment. This assessment is a GREAT tool that we can personally endorse as an insightful resource.


There is also a Day One Only pass that does not include the Strengths Finder workshop for $97. Seating is limited.


[DISCOUNT: Register now using the code MOAA to buy a two-day Evolve pass at a discounted price of $127. Sales end Friday, April 2.]

Connect With Pride & Grit

Jennifer Goodale is a former Marine and spouse to an active duty Marine officer.


Every Officer Has Two Families

For over 90 years, MOAA has been working to get servicemembers and their families the benefits they deserve.