By Melissa Buckley, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 18, 2023) — Fort Leonard Wood’s Army Community Service program made sure military spouses felt special on May 12, Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
“I feel like this was a great idea. I feel appreciated,” said Abigail Barber, military spouse. “Our spouses work such long, crazy, unpredictable hours and we are the ones at home. To have a day to just relax and focus on bettering ourselves is really nice. I am so happy that I came.”
The event had workshops, like resume writing, painting, self-defense, healthy eating, fitness and gardening, and ACS provided lunch for the spouses and pampered them with several gifts and giveaways.
Barber said her husband took off work to stay home with their 18-month-old son, so she could spend all day at the event.
“I think it is really cool. The fitness class was perfect because I am a stay-at-home mom, and I don’t have time to go to the gym. They taught me things I already have at home I can use to exercise,” Barber said. “I am not the best at cooking. The healthy eating class is going to be good for me.”
Always the Friday before Mother’s Day, National Military Spouse Appreciation Day recognizes the significant contributions, support and sacrifices of the spouses of the Armed Forces.
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Military Spouse Appreciation Day in 1984. In his proclamation this year, President Joe Biden wrote the nation has many obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation: to prepare those we send into harm’s way and to care for them and their families while they are deployed and when they return home.
“Like our service members, military spouses know what it means to make sacrifices for our values and freedoms — stepping up every day to shoulder the unique burdens that come with military life. They selflessly care for others, often balancing their responsibilities at home and work while praying that their spouse returns home safely,” Biden wrote. “They bring their diverse talents to all sectors to provide for their families and communities, even in the face of demanding and difficult circumstances. They strive to make birthdays and holidays special, even when there is an empty seat at the dinner table. And during some of life’s toughest moments, military spouses are there for each other — forging lasting friendships grounded in support, service, and selflessness.”
Shawn Steen, chief of ACS, said when planning started about four months ago, the focus was on giving the spouses diverse activities to choose from.
“We try to have something for everybody to enjoy. We are grateful for the sacrifices that spouses make for the military life. We understand sometimes it can be difficult and this is just one way we can give back a little bit,” Steen said. “We want to give back to them because they do so much for our community.”
He said military spouses who were not able to attend the appreciation day event can make an appointment or just drop by ACS anytime to use the program’s resources.
“We have classes for young parents. We have playgroups. We have a weekly stroller walk. You can come in and get help with budgeting or investing with our financial counselors. We help spouses with resume building and learning to navigate the USA Jobs website. We also have resources for families that need (Exceptional Family Member Program) support and guidance,” Steen said.
Other community support programs offered at ACS are anger management, stress management, overseas orientation, sponsorship training, survivor outreach services and victim advocacy.
For more information, call ACS at 573.596.0212, or visit Bldg. 486 on Replacement Avenue. ACS is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission