Video by Sandi Moynihan
Rebuilding personal and professional networks after a big, cross-country move can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But for military spouses, who often move every 2-3 years, meeting new people, sustaining meaningful employment and finding a sense of community in their current location can be feel particularly challenging.
Luckily, there’s USO Military Spouse Networking Program events.
The Military Spouse Networking Program is designed to strengthen and empower military spouses by connecting them to their social, professional and community networks through scheduled events. The USO invites a wide variety of attendees to these events including spouses, local hiring employers, community/military leaders and organizations that want to support military families.
Since its launch in 2016, the Military Spouse Networking Program has fostered over 10,000 connections between spouses, hiring employers organizations and community leaders alone.
“It’s much more comfortable being able to come to a safe place like the USO and being able to meet people here and just start to build those relationships and make some connections,” said military spouse Natasha Harth.
Each USO Military Spouse Networking event begins with a light breakfast during which spouses learn about community resources, other USO programs, how to build and sustain their connections and the proper etiquette of networking.
Then, spouses are coached on how to develop their personal “elevator pitch” before participating in an extended speed networking session with the other event attendees. Then, after celebrating the day’s success over a brief lunch and Q&A session, spouses leave the event with customized business cards and, ideally, a collection of new contacts and friends.
“Today was low risk, high reward,” said military spouse and retired Air National Guard Maj. Kevin Cotton.
Spouses are encouraged to maintain their new connections and are even invited back to the USO for a follow-up event, called USO Coffee Connections, to continue expanding their local network.
“I am this program’s biggest cheerleader, even before I got employment,” said military spouse and USO Pathfinder Scout Meredith Kasenow.
“It’s so unique. I mean, I’ve been a spouse for eight years and I’ve never had any experience like this.”
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.