Physical fitness and mental resiliency are fundamental parts of a successful military career. Each military branch provides programs and training ensure military service members remain mission ready. But too often the priority of physical and mental wellness falls to the wayside for military spouses trying to juggle all of the responsibilities their role entails.
Five military spouses and their fitness and wellness nonprofit, InDependent, are on a mission to change that.
Be the Change You Want to See
Established in 2013, InDependent’s mission is this: connect military spouses to local health and wellness resources and offer virtual and in-person programs to help them along the way. “For the longest time these military spouse wellness issues seemed bigger than us. We were deemed someone else’s problem,” says co-founder Leslie Brians. “You can preach healthy habits to a service member all day long, but unless there's a supportive environment at home that encourages healthy behavior, then you're not going to be effective. Then we realized that if we wanted to see real change, we had to take matters into our own hands.” And that’s exactly what they did.
Brians, along with fellow military spouses Kimberly Basco, Michele Bradfield, Joy Chalmers, and Meg Gotheridge pooled their collective forty years of military community experience, an eager group of volunteers, and a little technical savvy to create the InDependent social community. “It’s a place where military spouses can connect and inspire each other to make health and wellness a lifestyle priority,” says Brians.
And while only two of the orginial founders are still managing the day-to-day business, InDependent's impact on the military spouse community continues to grow. The team added Community Manager, Evie King, to their efforts in June 2016.
Making This Change is So Important
Recent increases in diseases like cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and type two diabetes are linked to growing obesity rates. And while these issues are hardly limited to the military spouse community, Brians was quick to share that the added stresses of frequent moves, deployments and separation, and the unique stressors of military life make spouse much more susceptible. “Spouses are proud to support their service members, but their own goals and aspirations are often sacrificed, with heath a nd well-being neglected as a result.”
In addition to their online community, InDependent sponsors an annual Military Spouse Wellness Summit. Knowing how difficult it can be for military spouses to get away from their daily lives as professionals and care takers, the InDependent team made the smart decision to make the summit virtual. “Last year was our inaugural event,” says Brians. “No childcare, no missed work. We had over 2,000 participants and ten outstanding subject matter experts. The summit sparked some amazing conversation and involvement.”
This year’s summit is scheduled for October and will focus on how health and wellness can impacts military marriage. “We’ve even got some great giveaways too,” adds Brians. “Ocean getaway for two anyone?”
Getting in Touch and Getting Involved
InDependent currently has 16+ community groups worldwide, and interested spouses and community sponsors can find out more information on the nonprofit’s website or by connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram..
Spouses interested in attending the 2016 Military Spouse Wellness Summit can get more information and register by going to: http://www.in-dependent.org/wellness-summit.