Dave Etter talks about male spouses and why we need to look at mentoring in a new way.
USAG KAISERLAUTERN, GERMANY – Military spouses have come a long way since my grandmother followed her sailor across the country during World War II. We’ve gone from writing letters to sending tweets, from mailing pictures to Snap Chat, and from wearing white gloves to smashing stereotypes. One of the programs highlighting the strides made by our peers is the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year ® (MSOY) – founded in 2008 to showcase those going above and beyond within the community.
The Homefront United Network will feature each of the six branch winners over the next few days as the national vote for the overall representative will take place March 3rd. Readers will have the opportunity to get to know the ladies and gentleman representing each of the military service branches and decide who you want to be the face of the community for the next year.
From Submariner to Army Spouse
Dave Etter, 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year ®, has the unique experience of being a former service member himself. He served on submarines from 1983 to 1992, and met his wife in 1998 while living in his hometown and serving as the Commander of The American Legion. After 11 years of marriage, she enlisted in the Army.
Etter remembers when his wife entered the military in 2011, and his unofficial introduction to Army life was watching the television show Army Wives.
“I watched that for fun, so I knew the Family Readiness Group (FRG) was ‘supposed to come by.’ When we got to Fort Campbell, no one showed up on the doorstep, no one called,” he recalled. “I finally went to her command asked if I fell between the cracks. Turns out the FRG wasn’t active due to lack of interest. Silly me, I volunteered.”
Army spouses throughout the years are so grateful he took that first step!
He’s a talker … and wants you to listen in
Aside from volunteering, Dave loves to talk, especially about topics that matter to him. He hosts a weekly Internet radio show called the Male Military Spouse Radio Show. When you tune in, you will learn he has a lot to say about male military spouses – a segment of the population he says little support exists for.
“There is plenty of support available for spouses through Army Community Services, and only a small tiny portion is gender specific,” he explains. “It will just take time to transition from dainty, flowery visuals and pink tinted themes to generate interest to all spouses.” Dave is adamant that we, as a community, must make every effort possible to remove female only references. Referring to groups as sororities or wives’ groups are a huge mistake when attempting to be inclusive. Planning events that are specifically tailored towards the females in the organization are basically the equivalent to pushing the males out of the way.
On the topic of mentors
When I talked to Dave about the mentor debate that has been discussed throughout the military community, he gently suggested that we approach it from a different angle. “Mentor makes me think of being put out to pasture. I would rather coach or partner with. Or sponsor.” He reminded me that senior leaders’ spouses can sometimes be the most inexperienced in the group, having just married the commander. The service member’s rank does not automatically qualify a spouse as experienced. Something that is important to keep in mind. “A good group leader would have an idea of who each spouse should be teamed up with and should encourage them to tackle things together.”
I really like this concept, and can’t wait to see how leaders like Dave can help the community shift focus towards a teamwork approach.
Now that you got to know a little bit about him, how do you vote for him?
Voting for the overall MSOY will take place on Thursday, March 3. You can log in from any device and cast a vote for the person you want to see represent the military spouse community. Of course Dave hopes that vote will be for him.
“I want everyone to know that I am proud to be your 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year ®,” Dave Etter says. “I am at your disposal. I don’t know everything but I probably know who to ask!” Dave would appreciate your vote here on March 3rd.
Link to vote: http://msoy.militaryspouse.com/
To listen to his weekly radio show, tune in at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/machospouseradio
The 2016 Armed Force Insurance Military Spouse of the Year ® winner will be announced on May 5th at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C.