The members of the Canadian Forces face a lot of uncertainty in serving our country, and it’s easy to forget that the families of our soldiers live with that same stress and disruption. The Invisible Ribbon Gala, on May 3, shines a light on that lifestyle and the support offered by the Trenton Military Family Resource Centre.
“When your spouse is deployed, it can feel like everything’s fine until you fall under the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Jolene, a spouse who’s lived in the Trenton area for more than a decade.
“For me, during one long deployment, I fell apart when the lawnmower broke. When you’re trying to keep everything going on your own, everything stacks up. It seems a silly thing to get upset over — but the people at the MFRC understand. They don’t look at you funny when you’re crying over broken appliances."
The Trenton MFRC offers support through various programs and activities for all ages and situations, including employment coaching and respite childcare. Jolene is one of many military spouses who’s relied on their services. “The Invisible Ribbon Gala helps keep the MFRC helping families like mine,” said Jolene. “It’s a great comfort having the centre here. They’re there when you need them and always ready to support you.”
“There is no better way to describe us families than as ‘invisible soldiers’,” she added. “We are as much in the military as our spouses, we just don't support the front line.”
When she first arrived from North Bay in 2000, Jolene was like many military spouses: in a new place with no job and no friends. So she turned to the MFRC, volunteering and participating in different programs and workshops.
Since then, she says the MFRC has helped her get through multiple deployments, lifted her spirits during Christmases alone — even supported her through illness and raising her two children. “I often say the MFRC helped my raise my kids for a year while my husband was deployed; my daughter was only eight weeks old when he left.”
This close relationship inspired Jolene and her husband to get married at the resource centre: half of the MFRC’s employees joined them to celebrate.
“The wedding was all about having friends and family there,” said Jolene. “Many military families are removed from our families and the MFRC helps to fill that void, even if only to a small extent. They’ve helped me through so much, it made sense to have them with me.”
Jolene is one of hundreds of people who turn to the Trenton MFRC for support. The Invisible Ribbon Gala raises funds for the MFRC so they can continue to help make everyday life easier for military families.