Developing strong connections key

  • Published
  • By Linda Ambard
  • Hanscom Community Support Coordinator
People need strong connections in their lives. For me, as a military spouse, I didn't recognize how shallow my connections had become until my husband was killed in 2011.

As part of a military family, I spent 30 years moving to new assignments. I never considered that my shallow connections would be a disadvantage, because as long as I had my family with me, I was content.

But what happens when a "body-slam" occurs to the one person to whom someone confides in?

Body-slams are defined as events that affect a person emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually.

Strong connections, also defined as "911-friendships," provide friendships that result in knowing each other well enough that words are not needed. These friendships can help people through hard times.

When my body-slam happened, I realized how alone I was. My connection was severed.

A person may think they know how they would react to trauma, but the reality is, that can't be predicted. Nor can how the people in their lives will respond.

I didn't really consider the "what if's" prior to my body-slam, but if I did, I would have thought my family would be the answer. As I found out, however, sometimes when a person is grieving, the support isn't there in a way that might be healing. For instance, my own mother didn't call because she didn't know how to deal with my trauma.

My children were shocked and hurting that I was not able to be the lifeline they needed because I could barely function myself.

In a military family, home becomes the base a family is together at. When in reality, a home is a person versus a place, thus when trauma or tragedy happens, people may not have the resources to fall back on.

Strong connections take time and energy. These relationships are built on a mutual investment of ideas, thoughts and feelings.

A person must invest energy and personal information to build these strong connections over time. It is easy to feel that casual acquaintances are enough, but think about it. When was the last time you let someone in?

During trauma or tragedy, during a body-slam, strong connections provide hope and a reason to recover. Strong connections are critical to establish and maintain before hard times are endured.

Military spouses need to develop opportunities outside of the house to establish strong connections, because in doing so, they are able to develop friendships at a deeper level.
While it is not impossible to establish and maintain "911-friendships" in the military, it takes a commitment and it takes vision.

Never again will I allow my strong connections to be one deep. I understand now how hard it is to come back from a body-slam alone. Strong connections matter because they are critical for wanting to get up in the morning.
They are important because they give us accountability and a sense of purpose. While social resiliency is only a part of the puzzle, it is a critical element to consider in the military.

(Editor's note: Linda Ambard is the Community Support Coordinator. The position was created to help Airmen and their families withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. For questions concerning resiliency, contact Ambard at or at 781-225-1771.)