|INTERVIEW: DANA RICHARDSON, NAVAL SERVICES FAMILYLINE|
|Thursday, January 24, 2019|
Seapower Deputy Editor Peter Atkinson sat down with Dana Richardson, who serves as an adviser for Naval Services FamilyLine, to discuss the organization’s new partnership with the Navy League. Excerpts from that interview are below.
Q: How long have you been involved with NSFL?
A: Naval Services FamilyLine has been around since 1965 when it first began as Wifeline. The name was changed around 1999 to FamilyLine to fit the new population of spouses — both male and female — and to bring it into the 21st century way of thinking. Many of our spouses have their own careers. During our 36 years in the Navy, I’ve been involved in many different ways with NSFL, directly and indirectly. Lately, I’ve had a very fo
cused involvement with NSFL and am excited for the next phase of the organization’s journey.
Q: As an adviser, what is your particular role? And has that grown, especially with your husband becoming the CNO [chief of naval operations]?
A: My role as an adviser to NSFL has been to help guide all of their programs, and my real focus has been on spouse education — making sure that it’s timely and relevant, what the spouses need when they need it.
I’d like to add that there are many capable and smart spouses who are also working very hard toward this same effort. For example, our chairman, Leanna McCollum and her team have worked and volunteered countless hours to gather information, produce publications, teach courses, host events, along with keeping the organization vibrant and meeting our spouses’ needs and addressing their concerns. We value our relationship with CNIC [Naval Installations Command] to keep us informed with any Navy updates, rules and regulations.
Presently, the NSFL team is making sure their programs are meaningful and the tools that our spouses need to handle this challenging way of life. We refer a lot to the Navy Family Framework, which was released a little over a year ago and encourage the spouses and families to learn all that they can in the Navy world, what this Navy world has to offer them and how they can contribute. Together, we are stronger and stronger families mean a stronger fleet.
Being in this role as an active-duty spouse to the CNO, I’m able to help make connections and help move things forward. This can’t be done without our spouses’ hard work and commitment.
Q: NSFL has done some work with the Navy League councils in the past. Can you discuss that and how the partnership with the entire organization came about?
A: One of our four pillars is CORE, which is Continuum of Resources and Education. We presently have seven different locations where we offer CORE [San Diego, Washington state, Washington, D.C., Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Hampton Roads, Virginia, Hawaii, and Yokosuka, Japan]. There are many more locations where we would love to have CORE. The limiting factor so often is funding, finding a place to host the events, and logistical help. The need and desire are there with our spouses and we just need the means to help us out. Plus, the relationship with local Navy Leagues would, in turn, make both groups stronger.
Hampton Roads sets the bar high and MaryEllen Baldwin, council president of Hampton Roads Navy League, has been a stellar supporter of our cause. She is helped on the CORE side by many dedicated spouses, and with her support and input has created a very vibrant CORE community which is flourishing. Through working with MaryEllen, we were encouraged to contact Navy League headquarters here in D.C. National President Alan Kaplan and his amazing team were on board with our vision immediately and graciously offered us a partnership with our COREs. We are so excited to be able to run our programs with the help and support of Navy League.
Q: What is the road ahead now?
A: NSFL is a volunteer organization. We have one paid office manager position and over 400 volunteers throughout the world. Our vision is to grow in the spaces where the Navy needs spouse-to-spouse education and mentoring, grow in our relationship with Navy League, continue to grow with our spouses in our education platforms, and continue to stay relevant with our publications and materials. We would love to see real involvement from all Navy Leagues, similar to Hampton Roads.
Q: If there are councils out there that are interested in lending a hand or getting involved, whom should they contact?
A: They can go to our website directly and contact us: http://www.nsfamilyline.org or Info@NSFamilyLine.org. I would encourage people to take a look at our website to explore and see all of the different things NSFL does to keep spouses and families encouraged, educated, informed and engaged.
To watch a video on Naval Service FamilyLine's Command Spouse Leadership Course, click below.