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Male military spouses do much more than mow lawns

Male military spouses do much more than mow lawns
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SAN ANTONIO (May 6, 2015) -- "We can do more than change light bulbs and mow lawns," said Dave Etter. 

Etter is a part of a small group in the military community -- the male military spouse. According to a 2013 Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense report, males made up 7.3 percent of the Active Duty spouse population.

Male spouses have voiced their concerns about what it is like to be in the minority. 

A Navy veteran himself, Etter is no stranger to military life. He now proudly wears the spouse title and uses his knowledge to help others adapt to the Army. 

At Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he volunteered to be the Family Readiness Group leader for the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. 

"I was accepted with open arms," he said. 

Now living near Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, Spc. Stephanie Etter, a respiratory technician training at San Antonio Military Medical Center, he found his niche through volunteering in Army Community Service programs. He is currently an Army Family Team Building instructor and a Master Resilience Trainer. 

"As an AFTB instructor, I teach basic military concepts to family members and Department of Defense civilians," he said. "As a MRT, I instruct students on how to arm themselves with techniques and tools to combat catastrophic events that would otherwise result in post traumatic stress disorder, suicide or harm to others." 

Outside of volunteer work, Etter engages with other spouses through social events. He sometimes finds himself as one of the few, if not only, male spouses at those functions. 

This is a feeling shared by other male military spouses. 

"I often find that I am the only male at a lot of events," said Duwayne Jones. "It is okay though, because we have an awesome team of spouses at all levels throughout the command who make you feel welcomed and part of the team." 

Jones, another veteran, is married to Cpt. Kiana L. Jones, of 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

Jones is the co-leader for the Family Readiness Group. He says that his role ranges from providing information to assisting group members. 

"I act as a sounding board and reassure them as needed regarding field training, exercises, deployments, family concerns or even day-to-day life challenges," he said. 

"The group is an extended family, and we help each other through our challenges."

His wife deploys from time to time so Jones deals with challenging the traditional gender family roles. He, however, sees these situations as an opportunity for the family to grow. 

"Our family structure is stronger because of it," he said. 

Both Etter and Jones encourage other male military spouses to participate in FRG meetings, uses on-post resources like ACS and even seek out online communities devoted to them. 

"Help is out there," said Etter. "Even if you just want to chat with another male military spouse!"