USO Connections more imperative than ever

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In this time of physical isolation, it’s more important than ever that military spouses reach out to each other, according to Sarah Johnson, USO program coordinator. She said the USO Coffee Connection is a chance for spouses to network and meet their own needs.

“It’s just a space for them to connect with other spouses and get away from kids or military life. So much of their military career is about their spouse, so this is about their space,” Johnson said. “This time to focus on them helps them support their Service member.”

The monthly gatherings have moved online to support shelter at home, and Johnson said this isolation makes every form of community even more important.

“It’s imperative. If we are not connecting virtually, we are all isolated. It’s something the spouses really look forward to. We’ve had spouses connect from different duty stations, and it shows that, no matter what, people still want to connect with each other.”

A time for sharing feelings and resources At the latest Virtual Coffee Connection last week, 27 people gathered online, with a mix of stressed spouses and soothing specialists offering resources in mental health, mutual aid, veterans services, financial planning, and entrepreneur support.

Kay Larson, with Military OneSource, shared some of the group’s ‘boredom busters’ online for families with children feeling cooped up, and a Bookflix website that lets children watch a story as it is read to them.

A military spouse, Yasmin, told attendees she had just been laid off from her credit union job by phone, and wasn’t allowed to go in and retrieve her belongings from the office. The group quickly coalesced around her crisis, with several others offering guidance and services to help her keep her bearings. “You saw how people just jump in to help each other,” said Johnson. “It’s an incredible community.” Some spouses addressed the challenges in our new normal, having to try to work at home for such an extended period.

Aubrey Dowd shared it is difficult to telecommute while taking care of her baby; Maura said she faced the challenge of “having to schedule multiple online meetings for parents and children, and which devices will be used to connect them.”

As the online community settles in, Johnson said there will be one or two presentations, with a lot of socializing and networking, as well.

The next Virtual Coffee Connection for Belvoir is April 23, at 10 a.m. Online registration is required through USO Metro’s website.

For more information:
USO Warrior and Family Center, 571-267-2080

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