By Gary Sheftick
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Army’s spouse of the year is on a mission to motivate other husbands into action.
Dave Etter was named the 2016 spouse of the year for the Army by Armed Forces Insurance and he was recognized May 5 at a ceremony on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. He’s the first husband to capture this honor for the Army.
His wife of 16 years, Sgt. Stephanie Etter, is a respiratory therapist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and he is leader of the hospital’s Family Support Group for Charlie Company.
There are about 110,000 males married to service members and Etter said less than 1 percent are actively involved in Family Support Groups. He should know — he’s made a career of sorts citing statistics about male military spouses. He has a two-hour weekly radio show aimed at providing resources to these male spouses.
His “Male Military Spouse Radio Show” streams live every Friday when it’s recorded and can be accessed anytime as a podcast on Blog Talk Radio. Etter has been doing the show for about a year and a half now with co-host Jay Ha’o.
Husbands call into the show with issues and questions. About two to seven husbands call in each week and Etter believes many more need assistance because they don’t quite have the support network female spouses have.
Guys are sometimes left out in the cold at Family Readiness Group meetings, he said. Sometimes the activities just aren’t designed for men, he surmises.
“So if a guy spouse shows up, what does he do? He’s a wallflower,” Etter said. “A dynamic FRG leader will make sure that guy is welcomed into the group.”
1,200 volunteer hours
That’s what he does, of course.
Etter has volunteered more than 1,200 hours with the military. He was also an FRG leader with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and he took Master Resilience training there. He was part of a pilot program of 32 spouses who took the training and became qualified resilience counselors.
Etter is a Navy veteran and former submariner. He’s a member of the American Legion and has dedicated 7,000 volunteer hours as a scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America.
As the Army spouse of the year, he plans to put together a resource library of best practices for military spouses worldwide.
He also plans to soon start up a second radio program for spouses.
“I’m an old radio broadcaster,” Etter said. About 20 years ago he was the program director for a country-music radio station in Safford, Ariz.
“I’ve been doing radio — anything behind a microphone — since I was a freshman in high school,” he said. And that was in 1973.
Later this year, he plans to begin a new radio show co-hosted by Susan Reynolds, an Air Force spouse. “Spouse Spouts” will aim to provide resources to both male and female military spouses.
“It will be available for anyone and everyone to call,” Etter said.