Key leader spouses share challenges, lessons learned

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jamie Jaggers
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location- P
The spouses of senior Air Force leaders shared words of encouragement and emphasized the need for resiliency to an audience of fellow military spouses during the 2014 Spouse and Family Forum at the Air Force Association Air And Space Symposium, Sept. 15, here.

Frank Beatty, the husband of Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, opened the discussion with the allegory of a three-legged stool displaying the words “work,” “family” and “self” on its legs.

“Each of those areas are separate and distinct things. Of course they all touch each other, but if any one of those comes out of balance, the stool’s gonna rock,” Beatty said.

Betty Welsh, wife of Chief of Staff of the Air Force Mark A. Welsh, also took the stage and recalled the uncertainties she often felt throughout her husband’s career. At one point, she said, her husband was planning to retire, right before receiving a fourth star and nomination as commander U.S. Armed Forces Europe.

“I kept thinking, ‘Well, what does a four-star spouse do? How do you support?” Welsh asked. “Eventually I think I just relaxed, started meeting with spouses, families and people at the base, and just listened to what it was they needed help with. With time, the spouses wrapped their arms around me and things started to work out.”

Retired Chief Master Sergeant Athena Cody, the wife of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody, provided a dual military perspective and encouraged the audience to seek out family morale and support programs offered across the Air Force.

“I’ve always said if there’s one thing I had to do over, in hindsight, if I could go back to be a better supervisor, a better NCO, a better chief ... I would become more familiar with quality of life programs,” Cody said. “You get so focused on the mission every day, you forget about what’s generating the mission.”

The audience of military spouses heard from various speakers on a variety of military lifestyle topics during the annual spouse and family forum.