Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog provided courtesy of Linda Jackson, the project manager at Naval Services Familyline. Naval Services Familyline is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to serving Naval spouses across the country and the world. The Naval Services Familyline provides a network of experienced, trained volunteer spouses to mentor, consult and guide families in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. For more information visit http://www.nsfamilyline.org.
Being a Navy spouse is not easy. The challenges and demands of my husband’s Naval career touched us all. No matter the length of time we have been serving or have served as a military spouse, it didn’t take long for most of us to figure out that the strength, support and can-do spirit that we bring to the table is a crucial pillar of support for the U.S. military’s overall success. It is when our loved ones are called to deploy, on land sea or air, that military spouses are called to a greater service. We bear the responsibilities of navigating the challenges at home by keeping our families “on course and speed.”
In the words of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson in the release of the very first Navy Family Framework in 2017, “Navy families are an integral part of our Navy team and a vital contributor to mission success.” The CNO acknowledged the many contributions of Navy families that enable the Navy to achieve maximum possible performance. It raised the bar on the commitment the Navy has made to support our families through a coordinated network of programs, services and resources. As a seasoned Navy spouse, this was music to my ears and to the ears of the Navy spouses around me.
Or as Latisha Motley, a Navy spouse of 12 years eloquently put it, “to be affirmed and valued in our important role as Navy spouses as the highest level of the Navy organization fosters a greater sense of pride for all that we do in support of our spouses and in support of our nation.”
There’s An App For That
To help deliver on that promise, the Navy launched the MyNavy Family application (an app!) in the days leading up to Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which was May 10. The MyNavy Family app was developed by the Navy’s Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) after the Navy asked spouses for feedback about their experiences and how the Navy could help make it better. As a result, over 1,100 spouses responded, including me, via online surveys and face-to-face and online focus groups. Others participated in an app development workshop. Many of us seasoned spouses provided our input from the lens of a decade or more of military spouse experiences.
As one of the new spouses said at the workshop, “one of the biggest things I would change is putting more focus and attention on communications with spouses and significant others during deployment.”
Another spouse said, “I can be a supportive spouse and struggle. I am not going to lie and say everything is fine. I see a lot of spouses do that because there is pressure to keep it together at home.”
The Navy wanted to get it right in developing this app, and it quickly became a collaborative effort between Navy leadership, Navy spouses and several non-profit organizations actively serving the military community. The MyNavy Family app is designed to be a one-stop shop – it curates information and resources from more than 22 websites hosting Navy and DoD-sponsored family programs. The app menu is organized into 11 milestone events: New Spouse, Mentorship and Networking, Employment and Adult Education, Parenthood, Special Needs Family Support, Moving and Relocation, Service Member Deployment, Counseling Services, Recreation, Lodging and Travel, Family Emergencies, and Transition and Retirement.
This app is great for new spouses. In addition to Navy resources, spouses will have immediate access to material specifically developed by spouses, for spouses. These helpful resources provide new spouses with downloadable guidelines and classes which encompass wisdom and guidance from Navy spouses of all levels of experience who have come before them on their journey as a Navy spouse. Experienced Navy spouses will also be well-served by downloading the MyNavy Family app. Many spouses never learn about the many available programs and resources which could benefit them and their family. This app allows access at a finger’s touch.
The initial version of the app will be primarily informational. As the app matures, interactive features will be added. The MyNavy Family app can be downloaded from the Navy App Locker (www.applocker.navy.mil). There will be a built-in feedback capability to allow users the ability to make comments on the app’s performance and to provide recommendations for improvement. We want you feedback!
More To Come
The MyNavy Family App is part of a larger effort underway to build the best Navy spouse experience through the Navy Family Framework. Other efforts include improving existing family programs/websites, providing Ombudsman registry access to command leadership spouses, increasing the availability of live webinars and self-directed learning activities and the development of an official MyNavy Family website. The official website will be tied to a CAC-less page on MyNavy Portal. Volunteer spouse teams, and several non-profit organizations, are working along-side the Navy creating responsive and useful tools to help Navy spouses experience smoother journeys ahead. Because stronger families equal a stronger fleet.