The Association of the United States Army 2018 annual meeting took place in Washington, D.C. last week. It is the largest landpower exposition and professional development forum in North America.
I wasn’t in attendance, but did get to watch the many livestreams taking place throughout the week.
My social media feeds were filled with pictures of Army friends reuniting and takeaways from a variety of different sessions, from family forums to the recent struggle Army families have faced as they experienced a permanent change of station.
Each session was filled with many takeaways.
AUSA is the United States Army’s professional association. It is the voice for the Army on Capitol Hill and it offers support for soldiers and families.
The numbers stack up like this: There were approximately 30,000 attendees and more than 700 exhibitors from more than 100 different countries.
I was particularly interested in the family forum discussions. It made it extra special because our very own III Corps commander’s spouse, Dr. Beth Funk, was a member of the panel.
First of all this made me so proud. It made me proud for many reasons — Funk is a shining example for military spouses, a long-time educator and now business owner here in Killeen. She is forever giving back to the community and supporting service members and their families.
Fort Hood and our families were proudly represented.
Funk discussed the importance of social connectivity. I found this topic extremely interesting because technology has helped us find ways to connect with a wider audience as a military spouses, family readiness group leaders and board members. This is a valuable tool in our toolbox.
Something struck me as Funk was discussing the social support and the opportunities and challenges that come with connecting on a digital level. We spend a lot of time making sure we are getting the information disseminated on so many different channels and platforms.
As military spouses, our lives are busy — work, families, military obligations, school requirements and maybe just a little bit of time for ourselves. With all of that, it seems like there isn’t enough time in a day or a week to connect face-to-face with our military spouse peers and pals.
Listening to Funk, it was a great reminder for me to make sure we are building meaningful relationships as we continue to find ways to enhance the way we connect and provide support and information for each other.
The conversation shifted to the importance of our community and the connection we have with the people and places outside of our gates. For me, that brought our Good Neighbors to the forefront of my thoughts.
Our “Good Neighbors” are simpleythe best neighbors. They drop everything at a moments notice to jump in and help get ready for a deployment or homecoming. They are there to welcome our returning service members with open arms and big smiles. They show up to every event happily. They donate not only their time and money, but their experience. They are instrumental in the connections we keep with each other and our surrounding community.
I can’t remember a time that I attended an event, from color casing to promotion ceremonies, homecomings to changes of command, that our Good Neighbors weren’t front and center. Some are retired military, some with family members who are veterans, others just huge supporters of the sacrifice service members and their families make for this great nation.
Without the support and connections of our fellow military family members and Good Neighbors, we would not be the same. We must continue to remain committed to building and growing these meaningful relationships.
Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.