NEWS | April 9, 2021

JBSA M&FRCs plan virtual military spouse conference April 30-May 1

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Military spouses who want to find ways to enhance their personal relationships and well-being will have the opportunity to do so during a virtual conference being planned by the Joint Base San Antonio Military & Family Readiness Centers April 30-May 1.

The JBSA Embolden Spouse Conference is hosting 12 classes and workshops for military spouses, including a panel discussion, which will all be held in a virtual format.

The conference kicks off with a networking night from 6:30-8:30 p.m., April 30, then resumes May 1 with classes, workshops, activities, a keynote speaker, and a panel discussion, all scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The conference is open to all military spouses, Department of Defense civilians and anyone with a DOD ID card. Individuals can register for the conference at https://e.afit.edu/QQQQddFW. The registration deadline is April 22.

Criselda Guerrero-Smith, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC community readiness consultant, said the theme of this year’s conference is “Discovering your Significance,” with an emphasis on building strong relationships within the military family.

Spouses who register for the conference will have a choice of classes and workshops they want to participate in by selecting from virtual links emailed to them or by picking up an enrichment packet, which includes information on the conference's classes and workshops. Packets will be available at the M&FRC's, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph, from April 26-29.

Guerrero-Smith said the ideas for the conference's classes and workshops came from surveys completed by JBSA spouses in December.

According to the surveys, the areas spouses were most interested in included military and marriage, mindfulness, personal wellness, building relationships with children and family, gun safety, and financial goal setting.

She said some of the issues and topics brought up in the surveys were a result of the challenges brought on by COVID-19, which forced many families to spend more time together because of lockdowns, teleworking and virtual schooling.

“We are looking at the military spouse as an individual, and what do they have in their toolbox to continue to push forward with these new challenges,” Guerrero-Smith said. “We want them to look at themselves and decide what classes fit their particular need.”

On the first day of the conference, during the networking night, spouses will go into different virtual breakout rooms where they will have a chance to ask questions, meet other participants, and then end the evening by participating in fun activities.

The second day of the conference will start with keynote speaker Bonita Owens, personal growth coach, leadership facilitator, author, and military spouse. Then, the conference will divide into classes and workshops conducted by JBSA M&FRC staff members and subject matter experts.

Guerrero-Smith said the focus and theme of this year’s Embolden Conference are different than those of the first conference, which was held in 2019 and focused on employment opportunities for military spouses. Last year’s Embolden Conference was canceled due to COVID-19.

“It was really interesting to us how it shifted from just getting a job to it becoming very personal,” Guerrero-Smith said. “We’re home with our kids all the time. We’re having to deal with these relationships with kids and social distancing, and I believe this year, when we talk about ‘Discovering your Significance’ for military spouses, we’re bringing it to a personal level.”

For more information on the JBSA Embolden Conference, contact the M&FRCs at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2705; JBSA-Lackland, 210-671-3722; or JBSA-Randolph, 210-652-5321.