Often an underserved and overlooked group of people, military spouses need just as much support and understanding as their enlisted spouse. While Scott Air Force Base offers various organizations for supporting military personnel, such as the Officers/Enlisted Club and First Sergeants’ Association, military spouses can often be overlooked or forgotten. Fortunately, there is an organization that recognizes the contributions and struggles of military spouses: the Scott AFB Officers’ Spouses’ Club (OSC). Scott AFB OSC President Teresa VanHoose explained, “It is important that the military spouse have an organization of their own to have the support of those who are ‘in the same shoes’ and understand the difficulties/challenges that a military spouse has, [while offering] an environment of acceptance and understanding that they may not necessarily receive in the civilian environment.”
Officers’ spouses’ clubs have been around since the American Revolutionary War, according to VanHoose. These organizations serve a dual purpose, aiming to provide both social and charitable opportunities for members. VanHoose explained, “Our organization helps with this by giving the members a time to ‘get away’ from the stress and socializing. It also gives our members a venue to make a difference in the lives of others by participating in our charitable events such as the Airman cookie drop, Holiday Tour of Homes and Trivia night fundraisers for our Scholastic awards program. This helps give them a sense of purpose in their base and local communities.”
While the needs of military employees are obvious and fairly well recognized by the public, the stress of being a military spouse often is not. VanHoose noted, “Some of the biggest challenges as a military spouse are dealing with our military spouse deploying, child assimilation into new school systems, house buying or selling, finding jobs in a respective career field and sometimes it's separating from the military (for our members who are retiring) and adjusting to that lifestyle.” Thirteen years ago, Thel Lemons, owner of Mascoutah business “The Gathering Place” and a long-time OSC member, was one of those people. She recalled, “When you move every one to three years you’re always having to say goodbye and always having to say hello, so there’s a comfort knowing you can always go there [the OSC]. It gave me a foundation immediately.”
The organization welcomes spouses of military officers from all branches of service (Air Force, Marines, Navy, etc.), all statuses (retired or active duty) and all surrounding communities. Spouses of civilian employees at the officer ranking or above are also eligible. The group holds monthly socials, which include a meal and an activity, such as Bunco, fashion shows and murder mystery dinners. When members need extra support, due to illness or a new baby for example, the organization’s sunshine committee sends cards, meals and personal assistance to members with deployed spouses. The organization also provides financial and volunteer support to organizations such as the United Service Organizations (USO), Special Olympics and Scott Airman's Attic, as well as scholastic awards to the base and local schools. Last year’s donations totaled over $13,000, VanHoose said.
Personally, VanHoose has been on the receiving end of the group’s kindness as well, when she underwent surgery in August. “The group was really great in supporting me. They sent me cards, made me meals, one of the board members came and stayed with me for a few hours, took care of my kids until my husband came back home [from an emergency meeting]. That’s just kind of an example of the kind of things they do to help each other out,” she explained.