The military, like any organization, is made of people. With approximately two million people serving the country, relationships are bound to form. Military members can travel the world together and many will start a family while in the service. But, like all relationships, they require work.
Aspects of “mil-to-mil” marriages can be difficult and stressful, such as finding a work-life balance, child care, and managing deployments. But for those seeking help, individuals at Ellsworth Air Force Base are revamping a group that may alleviate some of those concerns.
“The mil-to-mil support group is something [my wife and I] started in 2014 to help Airmen on base figure out issues in their relationships,” said Lt. Col. Peter Johncour, the 28th Bomb Wing advanced program office program manager. “We started it because we had a lot of people from around base who wanted to meet other people who shared similar issues to theirs.”
Peter and his wife, Lt. Col. Monika Johncour, the 28th Bomb Wing chief of safety, received orders to a new duty station shortly after they built up the first iteration of the group. Now that they are back at Ellsworth AFB, they are determined to reinvigorate the¬ mil-to-mil spouse group due to the positive feedback they’d received the first time around.
“I’m happy to start the group back up because it seems to help people figure things out,” said Monika. “When my husband and I left the base, the group shut down. And now that we are back, we’re trying to get it started back up.”
The group is open to all ranks, branches of service, as well as guard, reserve and active-duty members. It’s an inclusive organization that is open to anyone who is in a military-to-military relationship.
“Everyone is welcome to this group,” Peter said. “We are trying to make a support network for military members, and if we excluded people, that would defeat the purpose. We are here to help people out military members, not just active duty Airmen.”
Many Raider Airmen are in mil-to-mil marriages. The group was created to introduce military couples on base to others who could relate.
“We want Airmen to meet each other so they can talk about what worked for them in their relationship,” said Dennis Wier, the 28th Bomb Wing community support director. “We can’t do a one-size-fits-all program because there is no way to do that. But, if we get mil-to-mil couples together, they can help each other.”
There are many considerations that mil-to-mil couples have to make. This group gives military members a forum to discuss relatable issues and to hear what solutions other couples may have.
“I would say the chief concern for these couples is child care,” Wier said. “Couples have to figure out who is going to watch the kids while they are at work. The [child development center] doesn’t stay open if couples have to work late or go out of town.”
Child care is a common parental consideration, but at times, mil-to-mil parents might need additional support. The group is here to help solve the problem as best as they can.
“We are helping form a network so people on base can have the ability to get help if they need it,” Peter said. “Mil-to-mil couples are prioritized at the CDC, but that still may not work. If we can get people in contact with others who can help, it can make their lives easier and make the support group a success.”
The mil-to-mil support group is being revitalized and Johncours are eager to get it going again. When they first created the organization in 2014, Peter said he was proud to watch attendance grow with each meeting.
“There were a lot of good questions being asked, and I was happy to see how many people were benefiting from it,” Peter said. “I was also learning a lot … I was helped a lot by people in the past and if I don’t give back, I will feel as though I am wasting what others gave to me.”
The mil-to-mil support group will hold its first meeting Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. at the Individual Deployment Readiness Center. For more information about the group, call 605-385-4643.