(This article by Lisa Smith Molinari originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)
As military spouses, we’re often left alone. Sure, we’ve got kids, co-workers, and neighbors to keep us from total isolation. But we seek out other military spouses because, more than anyone, they get it.
When you find yourself alone after a move or transition, meeting other spouses can be daunting. Our Navy family moved 11 times, and I regressed back to middle school after every PCS.
I discovered better ways to network with other spouses than stalking them at the commissary. I met up with the best-connected spouse I know — Mercedes Welch, a 30-year Navy spouse, Naval Academy grad, Marine veteran, and mother of four — to see how she stays connected. Here are her recommendations.
1. Join Social Media Groups
Welch has used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to exchange information with military spouses. In 2014, she started “SWO Spouses” on Facebook.
For camaraderie, “reach out to military networks on social media, because many of them will have insight on resources and offer mutual support,” Welch said.
She recommends: “scroll on by” drama, “join groups that make you happy,” and look for “moderators who have their ears to the ground.”
Professional networking and information sites geared toward military spouses include the MOAA Spouse page on Facebook, National Military Spouse Network, USO Military Spouse Networking, Military OneSource, and the Spouse Ambassador Network.
As a certified ombudsman trainer, Welch says volunteering is an excellent way to meet military spouses.
“So many good organizations need volunteers,” she said, including family readiness groups, fleet and family support centers, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, USO, Red Cross, child development centers, suicide prevention programs, DoD schools, chapels, military hospitals, unit-level projects, thrift stores, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
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3. Familiarize Yourself With Your Base or Post
I met Welch at our base dog park even though she had no pets. The spouses in our base neighborhood gathered there almost daily.
Whether you live on post or off, military bases provide excellent venues to chat with other spouses at gyms, playgrounds, food courts, chapels, movie theaters, pools, spouses’ clubs, officers’ clubs, self-help centers, exchanges, and, yes, dog parks.
Lisa Smith Molinari is a Navy spouse, columnist, and author of The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.
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