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Website founder's goal to help male spouses connect

Jul. 23, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Chris Pape and wife, Maj. Dana Pape, pose for a photo after his nomination for Armed Forces Insurance 2014 Air Force Spouse of the Year.
Chris Pape and wife, Maj. Dana Pape, pose for a photo after his nomination for Armed Forces Insurance 2014 Air Force Spouse of the Year. (Photos by Silver Lane Photography)
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Pape also runs a private Macho Spouse Facebook page called 'The Men's Room.' 'The subjects range from humor to 'who's gonna win the game tonight' to more serious topics,' he said. 'It's a huge release for these guys because it's real-time interaction.' (Photos by Silver Lane Photography)

Bonus fact

Chris and Air Force Maj. Dana Pape have been married for 10 years. They have PCSed to Colorado Springs, Colorado, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Columbia, South Carolina. Now stationed in San Antonio, Dana has been in the Air Force for 19 years and is the Resources section chief for Air Education and Training Command Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services. She is currently deployed, and Chris works for a contractor.

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Spouses are often swept into the hyperactive military lifestyle — PCSing, becoming the primary caregiver, learning the lingo — without a proper “how-to” guide. After years of moving, career changes and much frustration, Chris Pape decided to construct such a guide, primarily for military husbands like himself.

Pape created “Macho Spouse,” an interactive website that provides resources and educational videos to “help male military spouses connect with one another and try to create some sort of a blueprint to navigate this military lifestyle.”

“I’m a person who likes answers — I’m not just someone who wants to sit here and complain about the issue and not be able to offer any depth,” Pape told Military Times. Married to Air Force Maj. Dana Pape, Chris Pape said there are lessons both male and female spouses can learn on his site.

“In most of our content or videos, we’re talking some sort of marriage or relationship advice,” he said.

Macho Spouse has surpassed more than 400 members, and almost half of users are female.

Pape won the Armed Forces Insurance 2014 Air Force Spouse of the Year Award. He was also the winner of the Air Education and Training Command-level competition for the 2014 Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award.

Q. What makes Macho Spouse unique?

A. I have passion for military stories and military families. Every week I get these emails asking for advice, and while I’m not a professional counselor, I give them advice to the best of my ability and push these guys through to experts, or counselors or [to] some of these other guys coming to me because we have a lot of guys, and they’ve all witnessed different aspects of military life. It’s a way to connect. ... The main demographic is Army, then I’d say Navy and then Air Force. Not a lot of Marines.

Q. What has been a milestone for you since Macho Spouse started?

A. The Armed Forces Insurance Spouse of the Year luncheon and ceremony was a life-changing event. I mean you’re having lunch with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and you’re meeting the Joint Chiefs and their spouses. You’re in the room with a bunch of important, influential people in our world. So that left the biggest mark on me because it was what I was most proud of. [Being considered] for the Joan Orr has opened a lot of doors for me, too. … People didn’t know what Macho Spouse was, there was no credibility behind the name. But now, I’ve been ‘vetted.’

Q. What’s something new coming up for your blog?

A. I’m trying to get a new [video] series together about how to PCS with your pet. I know when we PCSed last summer we nearly killed our dog doing it. There are certain things you just don’t think about — proper hydration and sleep. ... I’m trying to have a veterinarian here in San Antonio who’s willing to take you through the steps on how best to PCS with pets. ... I also have a bunch of stuff raring to go with mental health for children. And then I have my one-on-one videos with a male military spouse [offering] his best advice he’s learned recently in less than five minutes.

Q. What’s something fun you do for the male spouses?

A. The annual Macho Spouse award in May during Military Appreciation Month. It started out as a spoof on the ‘Military Spouse of the Year,’ which comes will all this recognition and the prestige. ... Macho Spouse wanted to do something ... that only guys would do. So we basically ask for you to give us your name, we throw it in a hat, pull out a name and the winner receives a six-pack of beer, a T-shirt and a cigar. … This year, we tossed in a grill set and a Windows phone. Eventually I want to get this award to be big time. But right now, we’re trying to keep it light.

Q. How are you affecting the military and spouses beyond your blog?

A. Being able to speak at the “commanders course” at the personnel center at Randolph [Air Force Base, Texas] has allowed me to talk about ... what it’s like to be a male military spouse. I’ve spoken at a few key spouse events as well. I’m talking about Macho Spouse to these commanders during their week-long course held in the spring and summer for 30 minutes. ... After 15 to 20 minutes, I get questions ... asking, “How can I reach out to more male military spouses?” so they like to use me, Macho Spouse, and my military spouse experience as an example.

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