Special operations Soldiers and their Families are exposed to unique experiences every day. To address those concerns and support those who remain at home, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s Family Readiness Group has created a mentorship program for spouses.
“What we are doing in this mentorship program is unique to our force,” said Angela Latham, USASOC director of Family programs. “We developed the program here. Nobody else is doing it and we want this to evolve into a sustainment type program of spouses’ mentoring other spouses. This is not a focus on consoling spouses, but more of active listening to others and learning to take positive actions in situations when necessary.”
With more than 60 spouses in attendance Sept. 22 to 24, the inaugural workshop presented a mentoring framework providing those attending with the necessary skills to meet the unique needs of spouses within USASOC.
Tristan Murray, a U.S. Marine Corps officer who is studying to complete her master’s degree in developmental education at North Carolina State University, facilitated the workshop. Murray developed the spousal mentorship program associated with the capstone event for her degree.
During the seminar, Murray explained that she was not going to teach by PowerPoint. Instead, she believed that active listening and collaboration with other spouses would spark conversations that would encourage mentorship ideas.
“There has to be a willingness to commit to mentorship,” said Murray. “Mentorship builds on trusting one’s emotions when mentoring others and the ability to develop conflict resolutions. It requires a high level of involvement and a desire to mentor.”
Murray added that military spouses may experience personal conflict with their significant other or possibly with their children. The time and distance conflict that occurs during military deployments could add significantly to the need to seek a mentor.
During the seminar, spouses participated in several interactive exercises designed to help them become comfortable sharing experiences with each other and developing ideas and plans to enhance mentorship among themselves.
“During the breakout sessions the increase of interaction between the spouses was evident,” said Maria Rizzoto, whose husband is a sergeant major in one of the civil affairs battalions. “We are finding ways to share ideas relating to all kinds of situations that can occur for the military spouse.”
“My ultimate goal for these three days here with the USASOC is to establish a mentorship program that will sustain itself,” said Murray. “We want to build a committee of willing spouses — willing to engage in self-reflection, engage in active listening and provide the tools to make positive actions with other spouses during mentorship activities.”