Stronger by Working Together — Building Connection Between Each Other and Organizations

Josie BeetsI don’t know about you, but military life has brought me many, many learning opportunities, some more poignant than others. The first I learned was never go to the commissary on payday — and if you must, prepare for battle. Another was the Army gives and the Army takes away — we’ve met and had to say goodbye to some of the most wonderful neighbors and friends on the planet.

For us military spouse attorneys — a group of typically Type-A personalities used to solving our own problems (and everyone else’s) — few lessons are more challenging than learning to ask for and accept help. The urge to be self-sufficient, independent (to counter the fact that the military calls us “dependents”), and to be the one who helps rather than the one who needs help is huge in our community.

But the truth is none of us is capable of tackling the challenges of military life alone. We need a network of support, trusted friends, colleagues, and fellow travelers that can step in when we recognize we need help. Even more than that, we need those special few who offer and then demand that we accept help when we don’t realize we need it ourselves.

We also need a network of nonprofits and organizations at the local and national level to tap into for support. MSJDN is a proud piece of this puzzle of support along side amazing organizations like the National Military Family Association, the Military Officers Association of American, Blue Star Families, the Association for the U.S. Army, and many more. This network of organizations has been a huge benefit to MSJDN, and we have partnered with many of them to increase our impact.

For example, when MSJDN wanted to start doing pro bono work, we partnered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors to provide free legal services to Gold Star families. MSJDN didn’t have the bandwidth to screen the larger military population for pro bono clients, but by partnering with TAPS we were able to focus on a group that we felt had the most unmet need, the families of fallen servicemembers.

In the tradition of this sense of collaboration, this August MSJDN and the Association for the U.S. Army have partnered to launch an event bringing together nonprofits run by military spouses for the military community for a day of fellowship and strategic learning. Learning & Leaning In: Military Spouse Led Nonprofits Supporting One Another will connect military spouse-led nonprofits with national stakeholders in military family policy, established military family nonprofit leaders, and philanthropic leaders. More than that, it will connect nonprofits with each other to give a fuller view of the organizations built by military families to serve military families.

As excited as I am by this event, I’m even more excited by the leaders who have come together to organize it. Patty Barron at AUSA has worked closely with me to craft the logistics of this amazing program. The Planning Committee includes Sheila Casey, Joyce Raezer, Christi Ham, Karen Golden, and Mary Reding — superstars and stalwarts of the military spouse nonprofit community whose expertise and leadership have set us up for a day of success.

We hope this full day of learning will be only the beginning of the conversation about how military spouses can work together to serve the military community. The bulk of the day will be conversations with attendees to better build a collaborative community of support for our organizations. We will close the day be reporting our progress at a VIP-filled networking reception.

I know my success as a military spouse and as the leader of the Military Spouse JD Network would not be possible without the support and help I’ve received over the past years. Even when I thought I didn’t need it, I had fellow military spouses who politely strong-armed me into accepting help. The spirit of this community is to ensure no one falls behind and no one falls through the cracks. When we work together, this is not only possible — it’s doable.

We are stronger together, and we hope you will be a part of building strength in our military family community.