Deanie Dempsey, the spouse of the new Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, spent a few minutes talking with us this week about her views on her husband’s Army family priorities. Of course, most of what she talked about can be applied to the other services as well. Watch the video of our interview or read the transcript below!
Amy Bushatz: Hi, I’m Amy Bushatz and I’m here with Deanie Dempsey. She’s the spouse of the new Army Chief of Staff [Gen.] Martin Dempsey. Thank you so much for talking to us today.
Deanie Dempsey: Thank you, it’s an honor to be here, happy to do it.
AB: In a recent interview your husband highlighted some of the things the Army needs to work on. One of those was giving families more quality dwell time — not just more dwell time. You’ve been dealing with deployment for a really long time. Do you have any tips that helped your family have quality dwell time?
DD: I would say the first thing obviously that comes to people’s minds is “We’ll take a vacation or something together.” I think I would say it doesn’t have to be the big things, I think if you focus on the little things, whether that be having dinner together every night. You might have to wait to 7:00 or 7:30 at night, until Mom or Dad get home, but I think dinner together is important.
If you have the chance to coach your child’s team or volunteer in school — where you’re around the family so you get more family time — I think all those things are important. Again, I think sometimes we focus on the big thing, when I think the little things actually add up to more. Thats not to say you shouldn’t take the vacation, that’s great too — but I think its really more about just embedding yourself back into the family and doing things as a family.
AB: There’s no question that dwell time just alone is a positive thing, but as most Soldiers or even the rest of the military, start spending even more time at home, what are some of the challenges families will face as a result and how should they navigate those?
DD: I think there will be a lot of challenges. I think for the servicemember, you know some of them, all they’ve known is the last ten years and a lot of deployments. And so they get that mindset changed when they’re back in garrison that you still are contributing and serving, just in a different way. I think we’ve got lots of family programs hanging out there that will help people through that, whether its financial because of course finances will be different without deployments too. I think we just need to take advantage of what’s out there for us and just remember that we’re still serving. It will be a mindset change, but we can do it. We seem to rise to every challenge that’s brought to us.
AB: Another thing that your husband said in that interview is that the family programs that are out there are difficult to navigate, or even to find out about. I don’t think that’s up for debate at all. I’ve heard lots of leaders say that. What are some practical ways, or maybe just easy ways, that we can fix the problem of having all this stuff, but not being able to locate it or know about it.
DD: That’s a good point. Actually, there’s a study being done right now on all the programs that there are. Because we feel that there’s redundancies, there’s overlap and then it’s where do I go for this, and you’ve got 14 different .coms to go to.
Right now we’re doing that study, and hopefully what it will show us is what we need to keep, where there are redundancies, how to get there — and how to help folks navigate that and get the best information in the easiest possible manner and not overload them with so much that they become frustrated and don’t bother to look for any of it.