The phrase “walk a mile in my shoes” is not an uncommon one, but more often than not it’s just that – a phrase. More than 30 spouses of Soldiers within the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, Muleskinners, had an opportunity to take the phrase a bit more literally. The Muleskinner Brigade invited all spouses to come out Friday and take part in the G.I. Spouse Avalanche to get a small taste of what their husbands and wives do as Soldiers.
The morning started with a physical training (PT) session as they were “motivated” by their military spouse and Soldiers who had volunteered to act as cadre. The cadre ensured that all of those taking part remained motivated and safe while receiving a taste of what all Soldiers lived through in basic training.
“I’m taking names to pass along to my husband!” Charlene Chilton, wife of Lt. Col. Edwin Chilton II, 10th Headquarters and Special Troops Battalion commander, shouted jokingly as she conducted flutter kicks while three cadre ensured she maintained her motivation.
Her husband stood only yards away with a huge smile, taking in the moment.
Once they completed PT, the spouses fell into formation with their assigned packing list for a layout in preparation for the six-mile ruck march they had to complete before breakfast.
The ruck march definitely did not have the feel of a tactical road march typically conducted by Soldiers. Rather, it was a great opportunity for Family Members of the Muleskinner Brigade to get to know one another.
Col. Shawn C. Schuldt, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade commander, reinforced this opportunity as he stood in front of the group before events officially kicked off.
“I encourage you all to mingle and get to know someone you’ve never met before,” Schuldt said. “We are a Family in this brigade, and this is a chance for you to have fun, get an idea of why your Soldier comes home tired every day and to meet another someone maybe you would not have otherwise.”
The spouses continued to bond throughout the day, sharing the pain of PT and the fatigue of a ruck march, and then realizing how great breakfast in the dining facility can be after a long and demanding morning.
That bonding came in handy in the afternoon as the spouses received classes on how to evaluate and extract a casualty, conduct a nine-line report and make their way through an obstacle course.
The group then ate lunch together – an MRE lunch, of course, because no day in a life of a Soldier experience is complete without at least one Meal Ready to Eat.
While that may sound like a full day of activities already, the Muleskinner spouses were not quite done yet.
The day continued with a bit of competition as spouses took part in paddleboat races at Remington Park.
The day came to an end with everyone taking part in a barbecue, receiving awards, and joking and laughing about what they had accomplished throughout the day.
“I don’t want to hear any more whining from my husband after this,” one spouse joked, to which she received plenty of laughs, cheers and applause from other spouses taking part.
While it may have been only a taste of what day-to-day life as a Soldier is like, spouses of the Muleskinner Brigade walked much more than a mile in their Soldiers’ shoes.