IWS21 Day 5: Be Well Throughout Generations and in Your Personal Story

by | Mar 13, 2021 | Uncategorized

The final day of the InDependent Wellness Summit recaps has finally arrived and, as expected, the online event ended with two great interviewees who had a lot of wisdom and inspiration to share. If you missed Day One, Day Two, Day Three, or Day Four, make sure to check out the recaps before diving into today! 

Our Day Five interviews discuss staying connected and learning from the generations within our communities, as well as maintaining your identity within your own story. What a fantastic way to end such an inspiring week! The first interview of the day included National Guard spouse Kelly Hokanson. Hokanson has been married to General Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, for over thirty years. Besides being a “seasoned/senior” military spouse, Hokanson is a military mom to three children who are all currently serving in the armed forces. She has a background in health education, and is a tireless advocate for military families.


During her interview, Hokanson discusses several ways to come together as a community, specifically between active duty, guard, and reserve. She shares how “Seventy percent of our forces live in our own communities, not on base,” which means that there can be a disconnect at times. She encourages you to reach out, volunteer, ask, and learn in order to connect more with those you may not have direct contact with otherwise. She then gives examples of ways to get more involved, and encourages you to find just one thing you can do. After all, if everyone stepped up to do one thing, instead of a few stepping up to do five things, everyone would be less likely to get burnt out. And speaking of burn out, Hokanson also provides some real-life examples of how to manage stress within her family and community. I am definitely going to be checking these out for myself. 

How do you reach out to your immediate community and make connections when you are a new military spouse? As a senior spouse, Hokanson provides all listeners, no matter the rank of their service members, with some powerful and relatable advice. Not only does she encourage the new spouses to reach out and not be afraid of someone based on their spouse’s rank, but she also puts a lot of responsibility on the senior spouses as well. 

She calls this process a form of mentorship, which is important but can be uncomfortable for both parties. Not only does she emphasize the importance of the new spouse to choose their own mentor, but also for the senior spouses to make themselves available. “We are all just people—don’t be intimidated—take the risk, go ahead and ask the question. Many people will be willing to help.” But remember, there is also a lot to be learned from a new military spouse. This service member spouse life is not quite the same now as it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. Everyone can learn from each other, across the generations. What a fantastic interview to be included in the final day of the wellness summit! 

The second interview on this final day of the summit discussed connecting with each other by telling your story. This recap is going to be a little different because I truly believe that nothing I can say will really be able to capture everything that was discussed. After listening to this interview with Larry Rosen, Master Instructor and Story Coach from The Moth, you’ll have more confidence to tell your story, either out loud or on paper. Every person has a story to tell and your story is worthy too.


In this time where people don’t listen to each other anymore, why is storytelling so captivating? It’s actually based on the science about oxytocin. Studies have found that when someone listens to a personal story, oxytocin actually gets released. So there is something about the personal story that connects people to each other in a physical way. “We love stories because they honor both the diversity and the commonality of human experience. You may hear a story where the facts are different from what happened with you, but there are universal themes in the story that will apply to so many people.”

As spouses of service members around the country and the world, many often feel their veteran has amazing stories and experiences, which are sometimes tragic or about amazing places, all of which they have not experienced themselves. Many times, spouses feel a disconnect and it can pull marriages apart. It is easy to push the story of your day aside feeling you can’t compete with their story. This simply isn’t true. The external action of what happened to you versus what happened to your spouse may be different, but what happened internally is every bit as big and important and profound. It is just as big because it was felt.

Rosen proceeds to go through an exercise with interviewer Corrie Weathers on how to recognize how important and relevant your story is. You will need to listen to the whole thing, but let me say, it was incredibly relatable to me. As a mom of four young children, I have, at times, felt stuck in the day-to-day aspects of my life at home, especially during deployment. During the exercise, I was able to also focus on each step in my own story. I recommend listening to this interview with a pad of paper and pen in hand. Each step in telling your story is important and you will not want to miss it! 

It’s sad to see the end of the InDependent Wellness Summit. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Remember, you can catch up on each day by checking out the Day One, Day Two, Day Three, or Day Four recaps.

Be Well until next year!

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.

InDependent makes wellness accessible and creates opportunities for all military spouses to connect for friendship, accountability, and inspiration.

We envision a time when all military spouses thrive through connection to community and resources that results in healthy decision-making for themselves and their families.