The InDependent Wellness Summit is our annual, online event for all military and first responder spouses- past, present, and future. Learn more about the program here.

Day 1 of the 2021 InDependent Wellness Summit presented by the USO recaps has arrived and, as expected, the entire week-long virtual event was filled with amazing speakers and inspiring content, as well as a community of military and first responder spouses focusing on how to Be Well


View of the Wellness Lounge™, available for All-Access registrants, at an attendee’s desk where she participated in InDependent Wellness Summit.

Our first interviewee of this amazing week was Richelle Futch, who is a Marine Corp veteran and military spouse with fifteen years of clinician experience working with government agencies and in private practice. She has years of experience with DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and uses these skills to help military families focus on stress management and prevent suicide. This passion has driven her to create her own workshop: Unpacking your Emotional Ruck. She believes in the benefits that assertiveness and stress management have on military families all over the world.

It makes sense that someone who is so passionate about stress management would be the one to discuss our first topic of the summit—Assertiveness. This may not seem like a typical topic when it comes to wellness, but it is actually one of the most important ones. After all, you might know what you need or want in your own wellness journey, but are you able to communicate that and advocate for yourself?

One of the biggest obstacles that can come up is finding the balance between passiveness and aggressiveness. “How can you make your needs met, and your wants and beliefs known, without violating the rights of other people?” says Futch. This is something that can cause anyone to lose perspective at one time or another. In times of stress, many of you as military and first responder spouses may lean towards the passive side, allowing others to dictate the situation. And sometimes, you lean the other way, pushing your opinion and feelings on others, violating their rights.


Assertiveness is saying, “I have a right to my thoughts, feelings and opinions. I have a right to express them, and I have the right to ask someone to change their behavior [in kindness] if it’s destructive to me.” We tag on “in kindness” because it is important to know the balance in assertiveness and not revert to unhealthy ways of communicating.

Futch also discusses how to express your feelings and needs, while providing the same respect to those you are talking to and allowing them to be in the right headspace to communicate. “We need to assume a positive intent,” Futch says. “It’s not always about asking what we want, but about hearing the needs of others.”

Futch also gives some amazing and simple examples of how you can be assertive and cultivate your listening skills throughout the entire interview. For me, I am loving that I can walk away from this interview and start implementing these techniques right away! Being open, honest, and vulnerable when expressing your rights, wants, and needs can be hard and scary, but it’s the type of work that will allow you to live your best life and really be well in all aspects of your life.

“It’s not always about asking what we want, but about hearing the needs of others.”



The second interview for today focused on the theme of being well with Healthy Digital Boundaries—something that every military and first responder spouse can relate to—especially during the current times. Andrea Davis, along with her husband Tyler, are the co-creators of Better Screen Time, and believe that screen time can be a positive experience. They believe that everyday interactions can be used to establish routines and expectations that help families enjoy screens and avoid the pitfalls that are so common in today’s world.

Andrea starts off telling the story of how Better Screen Time came to be, citing how almost fifteen years ago, the TV was kept in a closet (that’s right!) and only brought out for family movies or the Olympics. But as her children grew and technology changed, she realized that there needed to be more intention and balance with the use of screens in their home.

Now before you start to worry, I will tell you that it’s not about taking all technology out of your home and your lives. It is obvious that isn’t really possible in the world we live in. However, it is important to create boundaries and open up discussions within your family on how you want to use technology in your home. Davis lists some red flags of things we should be looking for in our home. “We are not allowing our kids to be bored, to know what to do with boredom, and as a result they are not becoming resilient,” Davis explains.

This hits home for military and first responder spouses. With constant interruptions into what is considered “normal life,” you know a lot about resilience. This is a very important skill to cultivate in your families and yourselves.

My favorite part of the interview was when Davis was discussing the seasons of military life and how when you are single parenting, it can be very tempting to allow screens to take over for you so you can catch a break. This is something I have struggled with off and on for years as a mom of young children. It is easy to get burnt out! She emphasizes how important it is for you to take care of your own needs. “Please take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself will help you not always want to default to a screen when you need to take a break.”

So how do you get started with all of this when you feel that technology is already a huge part of your family dynamic? Davis wants to reassure you that everything is going to be ok. “There is always a way to make changes.” There are ways to communicate these ideas to your families and there are ways to bend and move toward where you want to be.

Start small—start with recognizing your family’s values, come up with a plan together, and even consider reading some books on the subject (Davis recommends some amazing ones). Taking one step at a time can make a large difference in the end.

“Please take care of yourself. Take care of yourself and you won’t always want to default to a screen when you need a break.”


This is Day 1 of the InDependent Wellness Summit: Be Well presented by the USO! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! More recaps will be coming each day this week, so stay tuned! Don’t forget, you can still sign up for the Wellness Lounge™ and receive access to all of the interviews FOR LIFE! Sign up here.