News | June 6, 2017

Commentary: Military Spouse Appreciation Day

By Carol Gallant Joint Task Force Civil Support

FORT EUSTIS, VA – – I struggle with Hallmark-created days like this one. I carry the belief that there should not be special days to appreciate those in your life. But since everyone is into naming days, I have decided that I will unofficially rename this day as Joint Task Force Civil Support Family Appreciation Day!

My name is Carol Gallant, and you may be wondering if I have the right to name a day of appreciation. I don’t have any official right, but I do have a unique understanding of the challenging nature of being in a support role for this command and the need to appreciate all of our families.

I am confident that JTF-CS is competent and ready for their mission, but I have to ask the question: Are their families ready for the unthinkable?

Too often, family members deny the possibility and pretend it would never happen. It is very difficult to face these issues directly, as they are not pleasant thoughts. A rapid deployment of this command is likely the worst day in America. Another 9/11. Who wants to think about that?

I have to address the unthinkable in order to become better prepared myself. We are a product of our experiences. I have experience that is so vivid in my mind that I still catch my breath as my heart begins to race when it surfaces. I vowed to never be in that position again. That’s why a family support network is vital to me.

In 2002, I was in my own full-time career bubble struggling to manage everything in my life. My husband was the commander of 2-124 Infantry Battalion, my three children were young, and my clients were demanding. It was two days before Christmas and we got notice that Soldiers had to be at the mobilization station within 10 days. The next 10 days were a blur as we tried to get the families ready.

The families and news media came out of the woodwork for information and help. As the commander’s wife, many people looked to me to answer questions. Tem days was not enough time. Our lives changed in an instant. The next year brought more challenges than I can bear to remember. We lost several good men, attended funerals and celebrated milestones. In December 2013, three weeks after my husband’s return from Afghanistan, I lost my mother to Leukemia.

I have been on every step of this military adventure with my husband of 30 years, and our arrival to JTF-CS at Fort Eustis in 2016 was a long-awaited new adventure. We were geographically reunited after three years of separation in order to get our youngest through her high school experience without relocating.

We love the command and the local area. In the last 10 months, I have found that the JTF-CS families have amazing experiences and knowledge. JTF-CS families are fiercely independent and have endured multiple deployments all over the world in their respective service components. The DOD civilian families have strong local support systems and are not in need of a formal support structure as many are retired from the Armed Services and have families in the local area.

At the very least, you need to know the JTF-CS Operations phone number or where to find it. It will be your lifeline in the event you need it. Second, be sure you keep your emergency contact information updated with the command. This is true no matter your marital status! Third, become familiar with the Key Spouse Program that was set up in October 2016.

The Key Spouse Program is an official program designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of military community. It’s an outlet to obtain information on what is going on in the command directly from an official source, mitigating wild rumors and anxiety about the unknown. Six wonderful women that have volunteered their time to set up the essentials needed for ready action.

Please take note that the Key Spouse Program can be ANYONE; not just spouses. It is the primary communication channel for the Commanding General to the families. For more information email jtf-cskeyspouse2017@gmail.com.

If you are a military/DOD spouse, you have your own unique story full of separations and reunions, pride and worry, happy life milestones and devastating losses, as well as successes and failures. Many of these life events are with your military/DOD spouse by your side and many without. We would be honored to add your expertise to the Key Spouse Group.

I really do understand and empathize with the unique challenges of this life and I appreciate every one of you! This is a challenging life and if you are not prepared, you might get swept up in the chaos.

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving Peace.” -George Washington

Today, we should celebrate and appreciate ourselves and the role we play in the success of our Armed Services. My husband and I will never forget that the readiness of our families is mission critical to the success of JTF-CS. Being prepared can indeed preserve your peace of mind through chaos.

For additional information on JTF-CS, visit us online at: www.jtfcs.northcom.mil or www.facebook.com/jtfcs.