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Spouses share ideas, discuss wellness at ARSOUTH conference

By Lori A. Bultman | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Feb. 27, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Army veteran Maria McConville, spouse of Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville, visited JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Feb. 21 to meet with Army spouses at the U.S. Army South Soldier and Family Readiness Group Spouse’s Conference.

Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Walrath, U.S. Army South commander and husband of Christine Walrath, began the conference with an overview of Army South and a team exercise. He was followed by McConville’s presentation on how to stay healthy as a leader.

A registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, McConville is passionate about wellness.

“Good health is subjective. It is not the same for everyone,” she said. “It is different for different people. Whether you are a manager, an NCO, an officer, a mother, a father, a volunteer – we are all some type of leader, so your health matters.”

McConville discussed the types of wellness, to include physical, financial, emotional, spiritual, vocational, social and intellectual wellness, and assisted attendees in evaluating their wellness through a wellness wheel exercise.

Contributing to overall physical wellness are several domains, McConville said. These include appearance, weight and energy; physical fitness; nutrition; sleep; and absence of chronic disease.

Financial wellness can also affect health, relationships and performance.

“Our financial wellness matters,” McConville said, stressing that money does not necessarily buy happiness, and that some debt is necessary. “When we are not financially well, it can affect our health.  Financial health involves successfully managing our finances. Responsible debt is really important, but if you are constantly worried about money and paying the bills are you going to be sleeping well? Probably not.”

Intellectual wellness incorporates creativity, having stimulating mental activities and learning new skills, McConville said.

“Intellectually well people take advantage of different resources to expand their knowledge through academics, professional career choice, cultural involvement, travel and different hobbies,” she said.

Healthy social relationships are also important, and McConville encouraged participants to have good conversations and close connections to others.

“True connection takes effort. It’s not something we can measure by the number of likes on our social media,” she said. “There has to be give and take.”

After participants evaluated their overall wellness, McConville encouraged them to take stock of where they are and discover how to make changes.

“Change is hard, but change starts with a vision, or it starts with the end in mind,” she said. “How do you want to be, who do you want to be, what do you want to be doing, how do you want to feel, what are those regular activities that you want to be doing?”

McConville encouraged participants to evaluate their wellness wheel, define their vision, and work on their long-range and short-range goals.

“You have got to have that vision in your mind of what you want,” she said. “Who are you at your best wellness in all the areas? Once you can see that in your mind’s eye, you see this person that you want to be, and the things you want to achieve. Then, based on your vision, how do you start making changes?

Concluding the wellness wheel, she asked everyone if there were any changes they would like to make based on what they saw.

“It is important that you know exactly what you want to change and how you are going to go about doing that,” she said, reiterating that all the components of wellness are important. “None operate independently. One aspect bleeds over into the other aspects of life. When you have good health, you will continue to become a more effective, inspiring and more authentic leader.”

The spouse’s conference continued through the afternoon with several presentations and a roundtable discussion led by Christine Walrath. The group discussed the specific challenges of military spouses, such as employment issues, lack of continuity from one garrison to another, and the lack of information flow, while they also brainstormed possible solutions.

The importance of the event, which brought together not only Army South spouses, but also those of military leaders from Argentina, Chile and Brazil, was becoming connected.

“It is very important to feel part of this military community,” McConville said. “There are so many resources and organizations here to help military families. Always be aware that no one should be operating individually. If they have any issue or concerns, the military is a big family and we are here to help each other.”