While they may not wear the uniform, military spouses serve and sacrifice in so many ways. They display strength during times of deployments, duty station changes, long hours away from their spouse, and the daily unpredictability that comes with the job. At Hope For The Warriors, we recognize the challenges that taking on this role brings and want to applaud and thank these individuals for all they do for our military community!
Who are Military Spouses?
Currently, there are over one million active-duty military spouses and over five million spouses of veterans. These individuals don’t just wear one hat. They are often parents, working professionals, volunteers, and caretakers. It is a role that requires strength, independence, and resiliency to persevere during the most challenging of times. According to Military OneSource, a 24/7 resource for the military community, below are some facts about military spouses that you may not know and may give you perspective into some of the challenges they face.
- Most military spouses — 85% — want or need to work.
- One in every four military spouses is unemployed and looking for work.
- Of military spouses, 84 percent have some college, 25 percent have a bachelor’s degree and 10 percent have an advanced degree.
- Military spouses earn 25 percent less than their civilian counterparts.
- Military families move 14 percent more frequently than civilian families.
How Does HOPE Support?
HOPE has a variety of programs tailored to meet the needs of the military spouse community. Whether it be connecting them to others in the community to build a network of support, providing resources for a new career path, or supporting them on their education journey, HOPE is here and ready to meet all their well-being needs! Below are program highlights on how we serve.
Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship Program
HOPE’s scholarship program is designed to celebrate and reward spouses and caregivers of post-9/11 veterans for the strength they display as they play a critical role in their families. Five different scholarships are offered to help this unique and important community pursue their educational goals at accredited universities, colleges, and trade schools. Since the program’s inception in 2006, HOPE has granted over 180 scholarships, and we are proud of all the accomplishments our recipients have reached! Click here to learn more.
Warrior’s Compass Program
Sometimes the hardest part about starting a new career is knowing where to start the process. HOPE’s Warrior’s Compass program provides transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans with services like resume building, mentorship, job matching, and access to over 1,500 companies that want to hire individuals from the military community. Click here to start your career journey today!
Resilient Family Program
Resilient Family is a six-week virtual course led by HOPE trained facilitators to teach resiliency and coping skills to spouses and caregivers of post-9/11 veterans and service members. This program aims to provide resources and tools to manage stress and improve the overall quality of life by having a group of peers to lean on. Click here to see when the next cohort starts and get signed up!
Caregiver Resource Hub
The Caregiver Resource Hub is a private Facebook group dedicated to supporting and meeting the needs of the caregiver community. This closed and by referral support group allows caregivers to seek advice from their peers and acts as a platform for HOPE staff to share resources designed to alleviate challenges and stress directly. Click here to connect to services and become part of the Hub!
Meet HOPE’s Military Spouse Community
With many of our HOPE staff members being military spouses and caregivers themselves, we understand exactly what it takes to fill these shoes and what challenges may come. In honor of these strong and courageous individuals, we asked some of our spouses to reflect on their experiences and share their advice with the military spouse community. Read what they had to say below!
Meet the Spouses
Erin Lester is married to a Commander in the United States Navy and has served as a military spouse for 16 years. As the Head of Operations and Warriors Experience, Erin’s goal is to ensure that each warrior, spouse, caregiver, and family has the resources they need to achieve their wellness goals. Her advice to the military spouse community is:
“Get involved. My best experiences have all come from getting involved in my local military and civilian community.”
Jenna McDonald is married to a United States Marine Corps Major and has served as a military spouse for 11 years. As the Director of Physical Wellness, Sports & Recreation, Jenna works diligently to manage and execute our Run For The Warriors races and our 30×30 Virtual Challenges — events where our clients, donors, and larger community can come together in support of our warriors. Here are her words of wisdom to the military spouse community:
“No matter how much life changes with deployments, work ups, etc. do not stop pursuing your dreams within a career or creating your own identities aside from being a military spouse. Chasing these dreams may sometimes feel like you are just chasing something elusive, but you will fill them. It may just take a little longer, but you will be so proud when you do. So go out there and chase those goals and dreams — you too are worth it.”
Angie Parker is married to a retired United States Marine and has served as a military spouse for 22 years. As the Volunteer Manager for HOPE, Angie oversees the volunteer program and all the selfless individuals who dedicate their time to serving our warrior community. Even throughout unprecedented times, these volunteers have stood strong and found ways to keep HOPE alive! Here is Angie’s piece of advice to the military spouse community:
“Get out there and meet as many new people as you can, make as many new friends as you can. Some of my greatest friendships have come from meeting other military spouses who have walked in the same shoes as I did. Our life is unique, and you need friends who have experienced that life alongside you. Now that I am away, living in a non-military community, I miss my military spouses and everyone understanding what we’ve all been through together. Our life is unique. Embrace it while you’re in the moment because you will miss it when it’s gone. I know it’s tough while living it, but you come out much stronger because of it!”
Andrea Pastel is married to a United States Marine Corps Colonel and has served as a military spouse for 26 years. As a member of the operations team at HOPE, Andrea offers logistical support across the organization in various departments so staff members can focus on putting the needs of the warrior community first. Here is her advice to all the military spouses out there:
“Take this life one day at a time. Your next set of orders could be your best yet!”
Michelle Pompos is married to a recently retired United States Marine Corps Sergeant Major and has been a military spouse for 25 years. As the Director of Intakes Services and the Gold Star & Families of the Fallen Liaison at HOPE, Michelle oversees both the intakes process and our team’s conversations with clients. In addition, she works directly with Gold Star Families to provide them with the support and resources they need. She also has her Financial Social Work Certification and works with clients to alleviate the financial stress of the transition to civilian life. Now that her husband is retired, the couple finds joy in spending time with and supporting their Coastguardsman son and his wife — a new military spouse in the family! Here is what Michelle has to say to the military spouse community:
“Find your joy. Take breaks. The dishes can wait. Hug your babies. Travel more. Go outside! In general, life is short, and the next thing you know it, your husband is retired, and your son is off to boot camp and getting married.”
Danielle Rose is married to a United States Marine Corps Sergeant and has served as a military spouse for five years. As the National Donor Events Manager at Hope For The Warriors, Danielle takes pride in sharing HOPE with local communities across the nation. These events help bridge the gap between our warrior community and our valued supporters. With each event, Danielle creates a space where we can celebrate success stories, bring awareness to the ongoing need for support, and make essential connections that continue to further HOPE’s mission. Here is Danielle’s advice to fellow military spouses:
“As someone who is a big fan of planning in advance, being a military spouse has taught me to be much more flexible and forgiving. Information comes fast, often with little notice but with a lot of change to your life. My piece of advice would be to embrace the chaos and to look for a positive perspective in every new situation. You and your spouse are in this together, so lean on each other for support. It’s certainly easier said than done!”
Shelley Rodriguez is married to a United States Marine Corps Colonel and has served as a military spouse for 26 years. As the Director of Clinical Case Management for HOPE and as a social worker, Shelly uses her medical background and experience as a military spouse to provide a unique perspective to help our warriors get the care they need. Here is Shelley’s piece of advice to the military spouse community:
“It’s important to find your own passion, apart from your spouse’s career. You are a person too and deserve to pursue your own dreams and goals.”
Jordan Huffman is married to a United States Marine Corps Major and has served as a military spouse for 15 years. As the Director of Strategic Alliances for HOPE, Jordan connects with other like-minded organizations that support the military community. Making these connections can impact our warriors and their family’s path in life. Jordan’s piece of advice to the military spouse community is:
“Enjoy the adventure and stay flexible! You never know where the journey will take you.”