(Today in Pacific Spotlight, Stars and Stripes talks with Terri Hendrick, president of the American Forces Spouses’ Club at Youngsan Garrison, South Korea.)
What is the American Forces Spouses’ Club? Who belongs?
It’s a private organization to promote charitable relationships within the American and South Korean communities and provide an opportunity to members for social interaction. AFSC is open to all active-duty enlisted and officers and their spouses, retired military and their spouses and most civilians — in fact, most anyone with SOFA /MOFA privileges.
What stresses tend to impact military spouses, particularly wives?
My most stressful situation is when four or more things go wrong at the same time and my husband is deployed. Perfect stress: My husband was in Korea, one child was already sick, my daughter was diagnosed with strep throat and admitted to the hospital, then I had a flat while 20 miles from home while trying to get home to get the third child out of school.
And the advantages?
I love to travel and move every two to three years. Don’t know if I will be able to settle down for retirement!
Most servicemembers in South Korea are on unaccompanied tours. Is this a special challenge for a military spouse?
We are fortunate to be on an accompanied tour with our sponsor. … We have done unaccompanied tours in the past and a lot of character building goes on during those times. You learn to do things you thought you couldn’t.
Why should a spouse join the Spouses’ Club?
It’s a great way to meet and connect with people with like interests, be involved with post activities. … It’s a great feeling to be part of a group that gives back to the community in so many ways!
Any tips for getting through a spouse’s deployment?
Staying busy doing positive things make the time go by quicker for me. Try not to sweat the small stuff. And it’s OK to have breakfast for dinner!
What’s the greatest benefit to being a child in a military family? The greatest challenge?
My children have met people from all over the world … and have a better understanding of the world. … The greatest challenge isn’t moving or making new friends but rather keeping in contact with the friends you make over the years.
What do you as a parent do to maximize the benefits and minimize the challenges?
Pray, pray and then pray some more. Just as its important for spouses to get involved, it’s equally important for children to be involved in the community.
What advice can you give young military spouses on their first tour?
It’s scary to be away from home for the first time, but take advantage of all that is offered to you. Get involved, whether its classes such as AFTB, volunteer opportunities, local tours and trips.
Has the military community — and everyday military life — changed over the years?
A lot has changed for the better. Three examples: 1) AFTB classes are great for new folks to get a grasp on the military culture and community, 2) Formalized Family Readiness Groups have replaced informal coffee groups at the company and battalion level, 3) Web-based information allows us to access information from around the world — a super asset for preparing for PCS. The one thing that has not changed is the camaraderie between the soldiers and their spouses. It’s great, and I hope it never changes.
Title: President, American Forces Spouses’ Club, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea
Family: Husband: Col. J. Kevin Hendrick, U.S. Army. Children: Amanda, 17; Ross, 15; Wesley, 11.
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