In its fifth year — and its second during the pandemic — the Virtual Military Spouse Symposium is adding something new. On top of discussing career development and spouse well-being, the third day of the summit will focus on relationships. Spouses can join the conversation, titled “Reflect, Explore, Act,” hosted by the Department of Defense on April 27 – 29 from the comfort of their own home or office.
“Last year, we had more than 3,500 spouses participate from around the world. Our goal is to create that same virtual community this year,” Patricia Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said.
Barron, who is no stranger to the military spouse community, said that when relationships struggle, it impacts every area of our lives. And military spouses have felt that hard this year. Spouses have moved to new places and almost a year later still haven’t been able to find community. They’re teaching their children, caring for their families, supporting their service members, and struggling to find their place in the workplace.
“This half-day summit is part of an overall relationship campaign we launched last fall. Military spouses will hear from experts in the space of relationship support, as well as from other military spouses on a fantastic panel focused on real relationship challenges and work/life balance. The morning will start with a testimonial from the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command and his spouse about their relationship. To say I am looking forward to this event is a vast understatement. We want this event to open a conversation with military spouses beyond April 29,” Barron said.
If you’ve participated in other virtual spouse events, you’ll recognize some of the speakers, particularly during the relationship conversation. Army spouse Corie Weathers will discuss communication in marriage, Dr. Brian Doss will lead a discussion on romantic relationships, and a panel of military spouses will talk about how they navigate military marriage today.
The first two days of the summit are “are dedicated to career development and holistic resources for spouse well-being. These days will be filled with sessions on entrepreneurship, the federal job search, resumes, personal branding, and more,” Barron said.
Ready to register?
Eligibility for this event includes active duty, National Guard, reserve, and surviving spouses, as well as spouses of veterans, up to one year after retirement or separation. Registration for the event is open online.
Registering for this event is just the first step you should take in preparation. As with any event, putting some time in beforehand will make the experience better. Barron recommends protecting your time to attend and participate.
“That is the biggest ask we have for military spouses. Getting dedicated time to focus on career development and strengthening well-being is not an easy task. We want military spouses to know we recognize their time is extremely valuable. We are committed to making this a worthwhile, engaging, and eye-opening event,” she said.