I’m so not good at being politically correct. I’m trying to get better about it, but there are some things that really just get my goat if ya know what I mean. Lately, it seems like in every single thing I do, I stumble upon someone who thinks that they are entitled to do something…anything. I walked into my kids school during testing week and found a mother screaming at the desk clerk that it was her “right” to walk to her child’s classroom and drop the forgotten lunch off. I was in the pediatricians office, and encountered a woman excitingly proclaiming that she should not have to wait two whole weeks for an appointment for her child’s physical (that she should have had the forethought to have done weeks ago) because she needs it done now so her child can play a sport that starts tomorrow. Even at the local Mexican restaurant there was a lady complaining about the military discount policy (which is clearly posted as Military in Uniform). I have a problem with entitlement… which, in turn makes me have an issue with enabling also.
When we first started this journey ten odd years ago, we did so in the Air Force. We had a Family Support Center (FSC), not an FRG. The FSC was a single building with a lending locker and some computers, a room with VCR tapes you could check out to learn about the installation you were being transferred to and to clerks there to assist in answering questions you might have… that’s it. When we transferred over to the Army, I was inundated with information about everything, literally everything. Looking back now, I was sort of enabled to learn about anything I wanted to learn about, but I was also enabled to be reliant upon the services of ACS or the FRG. You see, in many cases, enabling someone to learn something on their own is powerful, but sometimes it has an adverse affect. After doing this life, for so long now, I can see how the Army’s training module, which is straight forward and lacks in personal dialogue, can give some spouses the idea that they are not only enabled by the information but also entitled by it. And that, my friends, is what gets my goat!
You see, in my opinion, there is a humongous difference between enabling and empowering. When you enable someone, you give them the info that you think they need and allow them to do what they will with it. When you empower someone, like Army Wife Network does, you encourage them to sort trough lots of information and learn how to use it in a way that would best benefit their needs. You give someone the tools to get the job done without telling them exactly how to do it. It encourages learning and, in doing so… in learning how to use the information and resources available you can also discourage the feeling of entitlement. I believe that when you are made to work for something, especially something you truly believe in, you forget about the things you “may” be entitled to and realize the value of them instead. Y es, we are “entitled” to healthcare as the family members of military hero’s, but we are not entitled to express appointments because we did not have the forethought to schedule one prior to the day we needed it.
Don’t get me wrong, the Army has a ton going for it in the way of family readiness, they just need to tweak the way they put the information out there. Rather than teaching from a scripted piece of paper; rather than allowing for courses taught through an impersonal computer program, the focus needs to be placed on positive personal connections. They say it can’t be done… well, folks, I KNOW it CAN be done. We at Army Wife Network do it daily. Jump on the wagon, it’s fun, I promise. Do we encounter daily negativity and skepticism? Why, yes we do. But we know how to combat it because, honestly, you are not entitled to our information. It’s there for you to use, to be empowered by it, not enabled by it.