I would like to update you regarding the listening session with Dr. Jill Biden. First, I would like to thank you for your participation in this visit through spreading the word, sharing your personal stories, sending your questions, challenges, recommendations or comments.
The session was inspiring and empowering. Dr. Biden and her team were very engaging. They were eager to learn about the barriers and challenges our families face in a remote base and during COVID. The active listening and genuine willingness to act and make a difference were obvious and impressive. The spouses involved in this truly shared their personal experiences and how we as a community are affected. Dr. Biden and her team engaged us in two-way dialogue to discuss these barriers and it is evident that change is in our future. Dr. Biden truly listened and empowered our spouses to use their voices. This was a remarkable meeting focused acutely on the experiences here by all our spouses and the forward thinking of how barriers can be reduced. The genuine and sincere approach from the First Lady and her team were undeniable! After each point raised by spouses, the First Lady was sharing ideas and asking her team right away: "what can we do about this'', "what else can we do", "Did you write this down". The chief of staff, director of Joining Forces Initiatives, and the policy director were taking notes non-stop and engaging with solutions and suggestions.
Three main areas of discussion:
- Hindering barriers related to care on a remote base. (85% of the session)
- Hindering barriers to empower mil spouses and family members on NASWI. (10% of the session)
Booklet compiling the voice of the community (included in point 1)
- Presenting to the FLOTUS items made by mil spouses (5% of the session)
In regards to the 1st point: Hindering barriers related to care on our remote base:
The spouses shared personal stories, questions, challenges, comments, and feedback covering:
- Metal health and healthcare challenges
- Education challenges—specifically childcare
- Families with special needs children
- Barriers to employment and underemployment
- COVID challenges
- LGBT challenges
- Housing issues
- Suggestions to specific policy changes in the above areas
In regards to the 2nd point: Hindering barriers to empower mil spouses and family members on NASWI.
- 21st century tools and resources to unlock potential and empower spouses on the educational, professional, and wellness levels—and with focus on the “inner self value”, “pride”, and “appreciation” within military spouses.
- While promoting diversity and inclusion within our military families: Inclusion, diversity, and connectedness are our building blocks to empower each other. The commitment to create the mindset of empowerment, inspiration, belonging, 'every voice matters', encouragement, and kindness are vital for our unique journey in serving our nation. Our responsibility to empower every voice, building an inclusive culture of inquiry, breaking diversity barriers between various groups, fostering strong connections, driving cultural change, and bringing them together around a unified mission. Our families need more than ever to be equipped with 21st century tools and innovative answers to the "HOW" and "YES, I CAN" to unlock potential and keep them resilient.
In regards to the 3rd point: Booklet in your voice--the most valuable gift
The restrictions and limitations of the physical participation due to COVID did not hinder NASWI families from contributing and participating in this unique historic opportunity. We chose to be innovative in our approach by providing the opportunity for every military spouse and family member on NASWI to be included in the visit, get their voice heard, and connect with FLOTUS.
We put together a book during the weekend with 3 main sections covering stories that military spouses would like to share with the FLOTUS. Some opted to share with her their entrepreneurial journey and provided samples of their talents, skills, and work. Others were eager to share their challenges, questions, opinions, recommendations, and admiration of her leadership. The last section included testimonials from previous empowerment initiatives on NASWI and how spouses were touched by these efforts.
I will send you a sample of the booklet in a separate email. I will remove section 2 for confidentiality purposes and will keep sections 1 and 3.
Presenting to the FLOTUS items made by military spouses:
In the last section, a spouse presented to FLOTUS items displayed on a table showing the talents, skills, and home-run businesses of mil spouses on Whidbey. She told the stories and entrepreneurship journey of these spouses. Dr. Biden appreciated this section a lot and it was a nice wrap-up shining light on the mil spouse entrepreneurship. Thank you Bryttany Scudder and Lauren Minckley for putting this project together. And thanks to all the spouses who participated in displaying their work.
Links from the visit: (from King5 News)
- FLOTUS Arrival: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AvkmroZVC_aroD4we1628-O0usa6?e=vhdOIi
- FLOTUS Visit: CAPT Arny's speech: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AvkmroZVC_aroEAdIZYwFyP4ef4l?e=UUbHDO
- FLOUS Visit: Samar Arny's speech: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AvkmroZVC_aroEHwkO9mhUybIrKa?e=m3UESP
- Flotus remarks: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AvkmroZVC_aroEJtEbcgunj50ei_?e=zXJoGf
NASWI Base COW