Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station was a Navy base where the Hindenburg lighter-than-air-ship was once docked, and subsequently crashed. During the two and a half years we lived on that base, I somehow became president of the Lakehurst Naval Air Stations Officers’ Wives’ Club, as a young Army wife.
Shortly after I became the club president, I heard concerns and listened to suggestions about how to improve the club. Our base was very small, with few spouses to recruit to join our club. Several male spouses decidedly would not join because the club title made it appear as it were only for female membership. After a several months as president, I was able to work with the club members, and base leadership, to change the Wives’ Club to a Spouses’ Club.
This was not accomplished without a certain level of heavy discussion and drama. The necessary votes passed, and soon after we welcomed our first male spouse members. One of them even stood up as the club treasurer.
As we lived on a very small base, we were physically close to all of the Navy and Army spouses who lived in the area. Our soldiers and sailors worked together, we saw each other at base functions, shopped at the same stores, and brought our children to the same schools. With such a small pool of spouses for club membership, we discussed the idea of opening our doors to all military spouses in the area, with no contingency based on their service member’s rank.
I was not prepared for the drama that ensued after we began discussion about an open club. In short, I was told by the base commander’s spouse that in no uncertain terms would the spouse club be open to spouses of any ranking sailor. She told me that since my husband was in the Army, that I clearly did not understand Navy traditions, and that this one was not going to change.
Well, at least it wasn’t going to change at that time, while I was president of the club. I resigned shortly thereafter to take care of my newly diagnosed deaf child, and was quickly replaced with a Navy spouse.
Fast forward 15 years, and the Lakehurst Naval Air Station Officers’ Spouses’ Club has morphed into the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Spouses’ Club. According to the club website, “Membership is open to any spouses of all ranks of active duty, Reserve, and retired service members, spouses of missing or deceased service members and any civilian service member associated with JBMDL.” The organization is now essentially a community club.
I have always enjoyed military traditions, customs and courtesies. Our military experiences are quite different those found in my civilian family and friends’ lifestyles. I love the traditions that make our lives unique and special. Opening up a club to more members allows us to share those experiences with more spouses than were included in the past.
I am proud to be a member of the Fort Hood Spouses Club, which for the first time in over 50 years, is open to all Fort Hood spouses, regardless of their soldier’s rank. As I get to know the club board, I am even more excited and motivated by their positive spirit and willingness to work together. This is going to be a great year, here at the Great Place.
Karin Markert is an Army spouse and Herald correspondent who lives at Fort Hood.