CinCHouse Convention Focuses on Military Family Issues
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
SAN DIEGO, Jan. 10, 2006 For the next three days, the military and its families have the opportunity to learn a little more about each other.
CinCHouse, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping military spouses understand and thrive in military life, is hosting its first convention today through Jan. 12 in San Diego. About 350 spouses are registered to attend the event.
"The best thing ... attendees will walk away with is a better understanding of military families," Meredith Leyva, CinCHouse founder and Navy wife, said.
To help with that understanding, CinCHouse has designed several panel discussions to address family issues that affect the military, Leyva said. Among other things, these panels will help military leaders learn what servicemembers and their families need to make re-enlistment attractive.
"(Servicemembers) are professionals with deeply entrenched personal lives," she said. "Seventy percent of officers and 50 percent of enlisted servicemembers are married."
And about 75 percent of those spouses are educated and working outside the home. According to a recent quality of life survey, of those working spouses, 40 to 50 percent earn as much or more than their military spouses, she added.
"It's true that servicemembers (who marry) tend to marry young and have children young," Leyva said. "Still ... within the marriage ... you have a partnership of equals and the discussion about re-enlistment happens as a family."
Leyva describes retention as a hard issue, but said that softer issues are also up for discussion during the convention. "Invasive mentoring" is one of those softer issues. It's a technique that she feels could lead to a more cohesive military.
This leadership styleallows commanders to ask about things such as a servicemember's home life and financial situation. While these questions may strike a nerve, they often need to be asked to keep a manageable problem from escalating, she said.
"I think by realizing that the military does impact our lives in every way possible, it will help address the issues before they become a crisis," Leyva said.
While CinCHouse's goal of helping finding military answers to family issues is beneficial to the services, Leyva admits there's an upside for families, too.
"We as military families will have better lives," she said.
CinCHouse works to ensure its voice is heard by military leaders. Its convention is being held in conjunction with Western Convention and Exhibition, or WEST.
WEST, a technology, communication and national security conference, is co-sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute.