You may have heard the term "senior spouse" in relation to the spouse of a unit commander, sergeant major or general officer.
But since spouses don't have rank, and some senior leaders are newly married, the senior leader's spouse isn't always the go-to for questions regarding military life.
Over the last decade, the military spouse community has been trying out other terms to define this group of spouses whose service members are past the midcareer point but not yet retired. The one that seems the most palatable is "seasoned."
But even with that term, there are questions on who, exactly, it includes. Is there a rank requirement for the service member to reach before the spouse is considered seasoned? Does it require a certain number of deployments, moves or years before you can call yourself seasoned? The discussion on who is seasoned and who can call themselves such has left us idling in the weeds, instead of addressing the issues that affect this group of spouses.
Pride + Grit founder Jennifer Pasquale has steered the conversation toward seasoned spouses and their unique challenges by creating a community full of them. She defines a seasoned spouse simply as someone who is starting to think about what transition out of the military looks like.
"Someone in the latter part of service, not necessarily people who are transitioning soon or have a date on the calendar, but it's just people that are starting to kind of consider loosely, 'What does that look like? What is that going to be for my family? What is that going to be for me?'"
She explained that, whether you are the spouse of a service member at the 16-year mark or the 32-year mark, the questions are similar and resources hard to find.
So, Pasquale decided to do something about it.
The two-day virtual Evolve retreat is the first of its kind geared specifically toward seasoned spouses. The event has four areas of focus: identity, marriage, family and strengths. Over the course of two days, participants will hear from keynote speakers and have breakout sessions hosted by a life coach with a military connection, during which they will be able to communicate with other spouses.
Speakers on day one include Dr. Shauna Springer, a psychologist and expert in military transition; Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee, a mental health expert and military spouse; and Dr. Patrice Carter, a certified life coach and military spouse.
On day two, spouses will work with military spouse marriage advocate and clinician Corie Weathers on a strength-finder workshop.
Pasquale's goal is to have spouses leave the retreat with a 360-degree view of themselves, their strengths and their weaknesses. She hopes they can use that information to move forward and figure out what is next.
Registration for the Evolve Retreat is open and limited, in order to keep the breakout sessions practical. The retreat, scheduled for April 17 and 18, 2021, has two registration options. A one-day ticket costs $97; a two-day ticket costs $127 for early purchasers, then goes up to $147 after March 19.
Tickets include access to a private Facebook group, digital swag bags and invitations to additional, follow-on events. Participants will also be eligible for giveaways. Those who purchase the two-day ticket will complete the Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment, valued at $50.
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