Tuesday, October 31, 2006

 

SpouseBUZZ AAR

Andi of Andi’s World and MILBLOGS made her way back from SpouseBuzz Live, the military spouse blog-event in Killeen, Texas, this past Saturday October 28th. Killeen is otherwise known as the home for Fort Hood.

Here’s Andi’s initial after action report (AAR):

Since I began blogging, there have been three experiences that were so large, and so important, that it was impossible to capture the sentiment through a keyboard. The first large experience was my first trip to Walter Reed. The second experience was the MilBlog Conference and the third experience took place this past weekend in Killeen, Texas when SpouseBUZZ went live. Click here to read the Killeen Daily Herald story about SpouseBUZZ LIVE.

I’m an Army wife, I know this community. I’ve held the hands of wives at Walter Reed. I’ve let them cry on my shoulder and I’ve watched them face incredibly difficult obstacles with grace and dignity. I’ve received plenty of email from military spouses telling me of their fears and their challenges. SpouseBUZZ has been open long enough for me to know that military spouses are hungry for more avenues that provide support, love and laughter, which is why SpouseBUZZ exists in the first place. I thought I knew what there was to know, but I was wrong. What I didn’t know, until Saturday, was the degree to which military spouses are longing to hear the experiences of other spouses, and to discuss their own lives.

There were about 100 attendees at SpouseBUZZ LIVE, and I have no doubt that each one of them would tell you that what happened in that room on Saturday was one of the best and most important experiences they have had as a military spouse. I know it was for me. The military has support systems, and they are great, and they have their place, but the military doesn’t have anything that can come close to achieving what we achieved with SpouseBUZZ LIVE.

I truly wasn’t prepared for the emotion. Not prepared at all. Yes, I realized there would be emotion, but watching the faces of 100 spouses crying at the same time, nodding their heads in agreement at the same time and laughing at the same time, was a memory I will cherish forever.

It’s always bothered me when someone says, “You knew what you signed up for,” but it never bothered me to the extent that it does now. Now, after having a very young wife tell me that her husband is on his second OIF tour and has a baby coming soon. She prays for his safety. Now, after seeing the worry in the young face of one wife who told me that her husband deployed with a cast on his foot, and she is hoping he won't be sent out to the battlefield before he heals properly. Now, after listening to a wife take the microphone and tell us how she felt when she was speaking to her husband from theater while his FOB was being mortared. Now, after talking to a wife who finds herself in a new area, with new people and without a husband because he just deployed. Now, after hugging the necks of spouses who are simultaneously strong and frightened, brave and lonely. So no, we did not know what we “signed up for.” Nobody can prepare you for life as a military spouse during a time of war. If ever there were a “job” where on-the-job training is necessary, this is it. And if ever there were a job where someone deserves a medal for their sacrifices and endurance, this is it.

I often say that I wish every American could spend one hour at Walter Reed because it’s a life-altering experience. Similarly, I wish every military spouse could have attended SpouseBUZZ LIVE. It was that important and we made a difference in the lives of those who attended. Conversely, the audience members made a difference in the lives of the SpouseBUZZ authors. The camaraderie and sisterhood that was formed there will always exist.

It would be foolish to underestimate the impact that gathering military spouses together for a day of sharing can have. I’ve been to many events and briefings and functions and meetings. SpouseBUZZ LIVE was by far the most powerful event I have ever attended, and I’m motivated to do it again and again and again. I thought I was focused before, now I am more focused, with many new ideas and plans. Stay tuned....

How blessed and honored I am to be able to *work* with military spouses. There is no place I would rather be, especially now.

As those who operate SpouseBuzz bless those they serve, they will be blessed in return, and in abundance.

Here are some great summaries of the discussion, sharing, and relationship building that went on:

Conference Start-up, Panel One

Intro to Panel Two

Panel Two

Panel Three

SpouseBUZZ is the latest of Andi’s excellent adventures in the blogosphere, and already proving itself every day as an outstanding resource for military dependents and their families. When she says “stay tuned,” brothers and sisters, we’d better stay tuned. Something greater this way comes!

Many of my regular readers may remember that Mrs. Manly was scheduled to sit on one of the panels, and I was planning on live-blogging the event. Sadly, the Manly’s were hit last week with a family medical emergency. We had to withdraw from the conference, and it greatly pained us to do so. We prayed for the conference, and are very gratified that it was as meaningful as it was to attendees and participants alike.

The vague and uncertain cloud of dread that hung around us all week, has now condensed into our worst fears coming true. We now enter a season with which that Mrs. Manly and I, unfortunately, are well familiar. Those that can, please keep us in your prayers.




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