By Lizann Lightfoot
Last summer, near the end of a deployment, I learned about a program called Camp Joy. Sponsored by Operation Help a Hero in Southern California, Camp Joy provides a half-day of free child care to military spouses during deployment. Their volunteers ask only that the parent take some time to relax and pamper herself, whether that is with a nail appointment, a spa day, or a trip to the local beach. As a mom of four children, I was thrilled with this opportunity. I hadn’t gone out during the day without kids for almost a year. I didn’t do a fancy makeover, but I felt like a new person. Enjoying time with friends and no children made me feel more human and gave me the strength to get through the end of the deployment.
Military spouses serving as full-time caregivers or stay-at-home moms often fight a battle of putting their family members’ needs before their own self-care. Spouses aren’t the only women struggling to take care of themselves. Many female veterans have to balance their desire to be viewed as a tough military service member with their need to be seen as a beautiful woman. In addition, many female veterans and military spouses don’t have the income to invest in tailored clothes or expensive spa days.
That’s why there are organizations who offer pampering sessions or makeover services to female veterans and military spouses. These programs believe one of the best things they can offer women is self-confidence and a positive attitude. Sometimes all it takes is a good haircut and a new pair of shoes to help someone feel like a new person. (A few hours without kids doesn’t hurt, either.)
These organizations pamper military spouses and female veterans
Operation Makeover’s mission is to increase confidence and self-esteem among female veterans and military spouses by hosting glamor photo shoot sessions. They focus on veterans transitioning back into civilian life and anyone suffering from depression or PTSD. With a makeup session and glamorous costumes, the program aims to “fill up a reservoir of self-esteem for many years to come for all those courageous women.” Operation Makeover is located at March Air Force Base in California.
Pin-Ups for Vets is best known for its fundraiser calendar featuring US veteran models dressed in “classy vintage” outfits reminiscent of the WWII era. The organization holds style sessions to boost morale among military wives, female veterans, and homeless female vets. They bring hair stylists, make-up artists, and new clothing to a makeover session which culminates in a fun photo shoot. The morale-boosting makeovers are intended to help women find their own strength and confidence so they can rejoin the workforce or continue being caretakers.
Yellow Ribbon Fund hosts spa days and massages for military spouse caregivers of wounded veterans. The idea is to give women a few hours to take a break from being a caregiver so they can take care of themselves. The program headquarters is near Washington, D.C., but they host events near military bases nationwide.
Unspoken Heroes Program offers appreciation banquets called Showers of Appreciation for female veterans, caregivers, and Gold Star moms. Entrance to the event is free but based on referrals or nominations. Participants enjoy a meal and go home with free samples, gift cards, and prizes. Events are currently centered in the San Diego and Laughlin areas.
H-E-B grocery store is a military supporter who recently partnered with the USO to host a military spouse pampering event near Army base Fort Hood. Female spouses enjoyed a relaxing morning, including free childcare and a makeup station where they learned how to contour and received false eyelashes. The event included a massage area, a cupcake decorating station, and a floral arranging lesson. Spouses were allowed to take their cupcakes and floral arrangements home with them, as well as the makeup samples.
Amazon’s streaming show Style Code Live wanted to honor a deserving military spouse with a makeover last Veteran’s Day. They chose the AFI Coast Guard Military Spouse of the Year, who is a work-from-home mom. You can read her account of the glamorous makeover weekend in New York City here.
Some military bases host large events for spouses where a variety of local vendors and companies are invited to a spouse pampering fair. Besides enjoying free samples and new information about local resources, spouses can also get a massage, a free haircut, a hand treatment, or teeth whitening. Find out if there is an event like this happening at your base. If not, this is the perfect time to plan a pampering event. National Military Spouse Appreciation Day is the first Friday in May.