CinCHouse Helps Military Women, Will Host Convention
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2006 Military wives and female servicemembers face many of the same challenges, so it makes perfect sense to create a platform for them to share ideas about how to tackle these issues.
That's exactly why Meredith Leyva founded CinCHouse in 1998. "Military wives and women in uniform have so much in common. We have careers and families to care for, and there are a lot of good ideas we can share with each other," Leyva said. "CinCHouse was created to get realistic answers on how to succeed in military life."
The CinCHouse Web site provides information on a variety of topics, including relocation tips and advice on matters of the heart. "It's the kind of information you won't find in an official handbook," Leyva said.
The nonprofit organization brings many of these issues to the attention of military leaders. "CinCHouse is a community looking to change attitudes about military families by raising awareness about who the families are and what makes the military lifestyle attractive," Leyva said.
CinCHouse is not a lobbying organization, she said.
The purpose in raising awareness is to help the military think through its retention and family-support policies to encourage families to stay in the military. For instance, a $10,000 re-enlistment bonus may not mean much if a couple is forced to relocate to an area where the spouse cannot continue her career, Leyva said.
CinCHouse promotes its positions through its Web site and by attending seminars and conventions related to military affairs. One such convention is the Western Conference and Exposition, or WEST, a three-day technology, communication and national security conference.
The purpose of attending the conference is to exchange ideas between "rank-and-file military families and the top brass and command leaders," Leyva said.
This year at WEST, in conjunction with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute, CinCHouse will host its First Convention for Military Families, which will specifically address military recruiting and retention issues that relate to the family.
WEST 2006 is scheduled for Jan. 10-12 at the San Diego Convention Center.
CinCHouse also has a charity arm, Operation Homefront, which provides assistance to military families when a loved one is deployed. It helps with such things as car repairs, food assistance, and offers a variety of financial aid geared toward easing the burden of deployment, Leyva said.
Leyva has even published a book about what it takes to succeed as a military wife. It's titled "Married to the Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends, and Women in Uniform." She knows so much about the subject because her husband, Lt. Fernando Leyva, is a Navy diver and physician, she said.
The name CinCHouse is military jargon for Commander in Chief of the House - meaning the woman of the house.
"I came up with the name after my husband had this crazy idea to deploy on a bizarre mission to the jungles of Central America. After hearing the request, his commanding officer raised his eyebrows and asked if he had obtained permission from CinCHouse," she said.
Leyva said her husband got the message loud and clear and consulted her before "signing the papers."