Resilience

Reflection on Todd & Peggy Podcast #2
By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator

The audio recording below is the second part of a conversation with Todd, a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, and his wife Peggy, an elementary school teacher. Peggy and Todd generously shared some of their experiences as a military family, to help those of us serving military families have a better understanding of what military families go through. Below the recording you’ll find a blog post reflecting on this part of Todd and Peggy’s story. This is Part 2 – Resilience.

Todd_Peggy podcast 2 pic

Listen to Todd & Peggy’s story, Podcast #1

Resilience

As I listened to Todd and Peggy describe the challenges and opportunities their family experienced while a military family I was impressed with their resilience throughout the numerous transitions their family encountered. When I think about resilience I often think about it in terms of “FACTS”, a framework developed by the Red River Resilience (RRR) group in the Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN community. I believe the RRR’s resilience framework is applicable to military families. “FACTS” is an acronym that describes five key actions that contribute to resilience.

F = “Foster Hope,” involves focusing on the positive, having confidence in oneself, and putting things in perspective.  Throughout all three podcasts Todd and Peggy described a ‘can-do’ attitude that their family could successfully navigate each transition they encountered.

A = “Act with Purpose,” endorses problem-solving, planning and goal-setting, and active coping. There is no doubt in my mind that Todd and Peggy possess ample amounts of these skills.  Balancing a two career family and children, one with special needs, plus a military reserve commitment requires immense organizational skills!  I was impressed with how both Todd and Peggy stepped up to leadership roles as they gained experience in the military to help junior enlisted members and their families.  Todd describes in this second podcast how he intentionally mentored younger service members on how to successfully balance life while Peggy has served as an ombudsperson to help those with questions and challenges.

C = “Connect with Others,” encourages people to maintain intimate relationships, give and receive help, and spend time with others.  Peggy shared how early on in their military life she “thought she could do it all” without any help from others.  However, she soon learned that she needed to reach out and ask for assistance, such as asking a close friend and her parents to join her at medical appointments for their daughter.

T = Take Care of Yourself,” I could hear in Peggy’s story that as the non-military spouse she really felt like she had to be there for everyone all the time and did not take advantage of opportunities to take time for herself.  She shared regrets of not taking the opportunity to travel to visit Todd at really cool places while he was training or deployed without taking the children with her.

S = “Search for Meaning,” includes searching for positive meaning, self-examination, and personal growth. Both Todd and Peggy talked extensively about their pride in being a military family and the sense of purpose that service provided for them.  They display their pride through wearing Navy clothing and having specialized Navy vehicle license plates.  However, with recent terrorist activities across the world they now intentionally make decisions about how visible they want to display that pride for fear of harm.

As service providers working with military members and their families how can we help promote resilience? How can we encourage military families to foster hope, act with purpose, connect with others, take care of themselves, and search for meaning during times of transitions?

To learn more about the “FACTS” resiliency framework, used during disaster recovery, read “One Message, Many Voices: Inter-Disciplinary Partnerships for Resilience Communication” (2014) published in Procedia Economics and Finance, 18, 400-407; available online at:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212567114009563 .

Sara Croymans is a member of the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions Team and an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota, Extension Center for Family Development. In addition, she is a military spouse.  Sara and her husband, retired from the Army National Guard, and three children navigated 22.5 years of weekend drills, annual trainings and two deployments.

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