Where Are the Helpers? They're Living Among You

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Spouses hold hands waiting for their service members to return from deployment at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (Janiqua Robinson/DVIDS)

We're all glued to social media, especially as we try to find the balance between getting information and getting too much information. We're hunkering down, shutting out as much of the outside world as possible, but still clinging to the social interaction we get from our friends.

Where's the balance? Where's the good news? Where are the helpers?

They're right here. In your community, in our military spouse community, in your neighborhood.

Keeping up with what's going on is important, but it shouldn't be the only thing we're focusing on. Let's focus on the positive things, the things we can do to truly make a difference in the lives of those around us.

In Germany, several reports of community involvement have been shared. From volunteers stocking shelves at the commissary to friends looking out for each other.

Army spouse Christa Curtis reports, "A friend's husband is on self-isolation and she has been keeping an eye out for her favorite coffee at our commissary for a week. She didn't want to go off post to find it and someone dropped a bag at her doorstep anonymously -- may not seem huge, but it's the little things that are making a difference here."

Raquel Thiebes, who has been sharing updates on the situation in her area, gave an update as well. "Even though we've had to adjust our lives and limit physical contact with others, our deeper connection with others has grown. Our garrison has started an email chain looking for volunteers. A GoFundMe page was set up for a beloved local swim coach to pay his rent next month. A senior spouse shared her struggles online and listed ALL the mental health resources community members can have access to."

A friend stationed in Vicenza, Italy, has several good things to say about her community on lockdown. "A local chef that a lot of us have taken cooking classes from was about to move before all of this. And now he is using his skills to make meals and deliver them to those in need," said Nicole Allen.

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Neighbors in Vicenza, Italy turn off the lights, light candles and spend time together in March 2020 during country's quarantine. (Nicole Allen)

She also shared a great resource for free coloring pages that an Army friend has created. Allen and her neighbors gathered on their porches and balconies and played musical instruments and sang together. They also lit candles, lighters and phones in unity after turning off the lights Sunday night.

Natasha Harth shared what's going on in her community in Okinawa, Japan -- where there are currently zero cases. The three people who did have the virus have recovered. "One neighbor made over 15 pies for Pi day and invited the neighborhood over to enjoy and get out of the house," she said.

She also shared how online communities are helping people through this time of social distancing.

"We have a group of spouses posting positive things in Facebook to brighten up everyone's newsfeed with the hashtag #optimismboostsimmunity. The Okinawa HQMC PCS Advisory Council members are working out a video with DMO/PTO to get the latest and greatest news out to all in this stop-movement time. My friend that runs the food kitchen for Help Oki just wrapped up a lot of help for the local community (food drives, meal deliveries) since local Japanese children were out of school for a bit."

And for those incoming to Okinawa, there are families ready to help out. "The people who are currently in TLF a lot are quarantined and some are trying to get supplies to those people. Many offers to do the shopping for others who can't go out. Donations to families that don't have anything in their homes because their shipments haven't come," said Ashley Speirs.

Korean military families have been at this for a while and are starting to see the results of their social distancing pay off. But that hasn't stopped them from sharing helpful information with the rest of us through the journey. From tips on schooling at home and glimpses at what to expect, it all helps make it a little less scary for the rest of us.

Army spouse Samantha Whitcomb shared, "The first day the post started taking temperatures to be able to get on post, a friend and I, with our kids, took water bottles and snacks to the service members/civilians that were stuck in their cars in line for anywhere from 2-5 hours trying to get on post. In general, there has been a huge shift in the community, of helping one another!"

From shopping for those who shouldn't be out, to sharing supplies and looking out for each other's well-being -- this is something military spouses have been preparing for. We do this each and every day, through deployments and TDYs, through illness and loss. We are the friend you call at 2 a.m. And we won't let a pandemic stop us.

Thiebes said with confidence, "We can do this. More than anyone, I feel strongly our military community can set the example here for the rest of the world."

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com.

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