Military spouses
From left, Kristen Buzan, Megan Martin and Cindy Wilsbach discuss the important role of the military spouse with Melissa James during a luncheon held Oct. 26 in the Community Chapel Activity Center at Vance Air Force Base, Okla. (Photo by Sarina Houston)
Spouse's advice: Savor the journey because life is fleeting

by Sarina Houston
3rd Flying Training Squadron key spouse

11/2/2012 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The spouses of military members at Vance AFB gathered for a luncheon Oct. 26 to hear an inspirational message from Cindy Wilsbach, a fellow military wife, accomplished volunteer and former White House employee.

The luncheon, arranged by Melissa James, spouse of Col. Darren James, the 71st Flying Training Wing commander, was held at the Community Chapel Activity Center and was open to all Vance AFB spouses.

Wilsbach is married to Brig. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, the deputy director of Operations for U.S. Pacific Command. He was the guest speaker for the JSUPT Class 13-01 graduation, held Oct. 26.

Wilsbach has been a military spouse for 27 years. During those years, she's managed to overcome many challenges and has built an impressive resume along the way.

At the luncheon she spoke to approximately 50 spouses about her personal experiences and the importance of role of the military spouse.

"Our active duty spouses are often hailed as America's finest, defenders of freedom, champions and heroes -- and deservedly so," said Wilsbach. "We are, indeed, proud of our Armed Forces. But your contributions are often unheralded. For you, there are no citations, no fanfare, no medals, no salutes. But you are the unsung heroes of our nation."

A volunteer at heart, Wilsbach has a background in public relations and worked as a writer and editor before volunteering for the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence in Washington, D.C.

From there, she was hired to work at the White House as the associate director of USA Freedom Corps under the direction of President George W. Bush in 2004, a position she held until 2009.

Through it all, Wilsbach seems to have maintained a sense of humor, a grounded spirit and a passion for volunteerism -- evident in her message to the military spouses here at Vance AFB.

Speaking about military life and volunteerism, Wilsbach advised spouses to "Be yourself, and don't apologize for it. At the same time, don't let it be all about you.

"Take time to invest in something that will enrich the lives of others -- without the desire for personal gain. The reward will be finding that true joy comes from serving a cause greater than yourself," said Wilsbach.

She urged spouses to find their niche in the community, get involved and encourage one another. She told of a personal experience in which just a small note with words of encouragement she had given to a fellow military spouse had resonated with that person for a lifetime.

Perhaps most important was Wilsbach's message to find humor in the unexpected challenges associated with this nomadic life, and to embrace the opportunities and experiences that are unique to those who serve this nation in the role of a military spouse.

"Savor the journey because life is fleeting and fast. Take it all in and don't dare close your eyes. You are never going to see this view again," said Wilsbach.

(Editor's note: Sarina is the Key Spouse for the 3rd Flying Training Squadron and is married to Capt. Jacob Houston in the 3rd FTS at Vance AFB.)