Military spouses are invited to join lifestyle experts this November for a no-cost event focused on navigating deployments.
PILLAR, a digital retreat focused on helping spouses prepare for and manage deployments, will be held Nov. 12-14. Spouses at every stage of their military life will find encouragement, support, and guidance on how to not only survive, but thrive, during deployments.
“No matter who you are, if you are a human, you probably struggle with asking for help,” said Jessie Ellertson, a life coach at Simply Resilient and National Guard spouse speaking at the event, which is designed to help connect military spouses with resources that help make them stronger and more resilient while deployments are underway.
“There is a particularly challenging aspect to being a National Guard spouse because we are living a pretty civilian life even though we are completely affected by the military aspect of our life,” Ellertson said. “We are surrounded by non-military neighbors and families who typically do not understand what it feels like to go through what we’re going through. This can be incredibly isolating and often makes the spouse on the home front feel uncomfortable and unsure about asking for help from their community.”
Ellertson learned the hard way how to ask for that help. During her husband’s first year-long deployment (to Kosovo in 2013), she broke her leg in multiple places just two weeks after he left. Her parents moved in to assist her through multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and caring for the couples’ small children, who ranged in age from two to seven at the time.
“We had to rely on survival mode and tons of help and service from others,” said Ellertson. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever endured but we learned and grew so much from it and it shaped a lot of who I am today.”
Each day of the free digital retreat offers proven strategies to help families. Co-hosted by Becky Hoy, an Army spouse and founder of Brave Crate, a deployment countdown subscription box for military spouses, each speaker at the retreat focuses on how to make deployments work for you.
Hoy, who struggled during her husband’s first deployment, had the sudden realization that she was wishing away the days – and that these wished-away days were her life.
“I spent intentional time shifting my focus away from counting days and onto making every single day count,” Hoy said. “I started prioritizing and planning for moments of joy each day, week, and month. It was transformative.”
Ellertson echoes the idea of a mindshift, and attendees will leave with strategies to apply in their own lives.
“I had no idea that just making tiny adjustments to the way I was thinking would create such a real change in the way I was feeling about my life. It was exactly what I needed at that time and changed the way I experienced that deployment so dramatically.”
She found it so transformational that she began working as a life coach in order to help others experience those huge changes for themselves.
“For many of us it can take years to really find the support that we need during seasons of separation,” said Hoy, whose work with military spouses on Brave Crate helped her realize that not enough spouses are aware of the vast array of resources available to them.
“One of the best things we heard from attendees in 2020 was that they left with a sense of community – knowing that they are not alone in this military life journey,” said Hoy. “We hope that this year’s attendees walk away with that same sense of belonging, and also that they feel empowered to make every day count as they count down to homecoming.”
To register to attend the free retreat, visit PILLAR: The Digital Retreat for Deployment Countdowns.
Kate Lewis has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and is the monthly book critic for Military Families Magazine. Read more of her work on Twitter.Read comments