Chairman’s Wife Meets Most-Senior Enlisted Spouses
Ellyn Dunford, the wife of Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, yesterday met with the spouses of the U.S. military’s most-senior enlisted members attending the 2016 Defense Senior Enlisted Leadership Council at the Pentagon.
The spouses of the services’ most-senior noncommissioned officers were invited to attend the conference to establish connections to better serve service members.
“When I married into the Marine Corps, Joe quickly became the company commander and I became the Family Readiness Center,” Ellyn Dunford recalled. “So much is available now. There are lots of options for you and your family.”
“We’re all juggling a fair amount on our plate,” she continued. “Some of us are in the middle school, balancing careers and family, and some of you may even be taking care of a parent or other family member.”
Ellyn Dunford then offered some advice on how to balance the demands of being a military spouse.
“Where do you see yourself fitting in, and what are you capable of doing?” the Boston native asked. “Narrow your focus on what you want to work on and pay attention to, because you can’t do it all.”
Ellyn Dunford then gave the example of the spouse who is an introvert.
“Being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t care, you just have a different way of leadership,” she said. “Introverts can focus on the one-on-one conversations with families, which are so important.”
Janet Colon-Lopez, wife of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, the senior enlisted leader at U.S. Africa Command, found this insightful.
“We always feel like we have to have the biggest and best program, but it’s the little things that make a huge difference,” Colon-Lopez said.
Taking Care of Service Member Spouses
Ellyn Dunford reminded her fellow military spouses that they all have the same goal of taking care of their service member spouses.
She proposed the following question, “What do I have to do to help my service member give their all, and what does my spouse need from me to give their all?”
In response to her question, Ellyn Dunford suggested a culture change.
“We don’t need another program, we need a culture where everyone feels they can ask for help and reach out to their neighbor, and a culture where it’s normal to be helpful,” she said.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, felt it was important to invite spouses to the conference.
“Our spouses often have conversations that we don’t normally have,” said Troxell, who hosted the conference. “So, I want them to be able to call each other to use their experiences to help each other.”