Military Spouse Magazine

FEB 2019

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Page 17 of 35

O U R L I V E S Strong Enough After three decades, one senior spouse reflects on what helped her thrive as a military spouse. By Natalie Hayek, Air Force Spouse Photography by Princess Johnson, Photography by Princess, IF WE GET THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO OUR MOST SENIOR SPOUSES, WE MIGHT LEAN IN INTENTLY, EAGER TO LEARN THEIR SECRETS. AFTER ALL, PERSEVERING FOR DECADES IN THIS CHALLENGING LIFE MUST INVOLVE A SECRET OR TWO, RIGHT? Dawn Goldfein, a former military child and the 35-year spouse of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, would tell you that she's struggled with a lot of the same stressors as many military spouses. She's also come very close to tragedy. But Mrs. Goldfein found strength in the very culture that's challenged her. Lean in, you're going to want to hear this. STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Mrs. Goldfein's husband had two days notice for his first deployment. While he prepared to leave for Operation Desert Shield, Mrs. Goldfein prepared to stay home alone with their two babies. "I was petrified," she said. But she found that she wasn't truly alone. Drawing strength from the military spouses around her, Mrs. Goldfein realized that their shared experiences helped them persevere. Mrs. Goldfein purposefully im- mersed herself in the military spouse community at each assignment. Becom- ing a regular member of spouses' clubs helped her overcome shyness and form important friendships. While overseas or at a remote location, Mrs. Goldfein said that spouses' clubs "were my lifeline." CALLED TO SERVE As Mrs. Goldfein became more involved, she noticed a special quality about the military spouse community: service-mindedness. She said that when she embraced the service life, things changed. Her own problems seemed "miniscule." Military spouses who served their communities seemed to have endless stores of strength and energy. They managed big responsi- bilities and multitasked in high-intensity circumstances. Mrs. Goldfein saw that the act of service strengthened the spouses who served, as well as the communities they helped. It was a realization that inspired her. "Once I started getting involved with oth- er spouses or organizations that would help, I realized this institution, this thing called the service, is bigger than myself," she said. >> But these relationships yielded more than social outlets; they also provided mentorship opportunities. "I think it's healthy to try to find some- one you would want to emulate," she said. "That's what got me through." Mrs. Goldfein noticed that this culture of mentorship and support was an effective way to strengthen spouses. It helped her learn and grow. She now works to continue this legacy, so that spouses who come behind her can benefit from the same tradition. 18 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / FEBRUARY 2019

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