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Welcomes and Farewells: It’s a Spouse Thing! 

Welcoming or saying goodbye to the unit’s command team spouse is a wonderful military tradition that has been repeated many times throughout generations.

Each one is uniquely different while still reflecting the wishes of the honored guest. Over the years, the particulars of these events have changed and evolved.


With no set regulations to govern spouse customs, our protocol and traditions team has compiled guidelines from experience for our 21st century military spouses!


spouse While it is customary for battalions, brigades, and higher units to recognize a new or outgoing command team spouse, welcomes and farewells are not given for company-grade command teams.

These spouses are recognized at the unit’s hail and farewell and within the soldier and family readiness group.

No matter which type of welcome/farewell the guest of honor chooses—formal or blue-jean casual—the only hard rule is to create an event in which the guest of honor is comfortable!



Who should host the event?


The senior spouse in the unit should host the event, e.g., a command sergeant major’s spouse or executive officer’s spouse hosts a commander’s spouse; a commander’s spouse hosts a command sergeant major’s spouse.

If there is no senior spouse, an acting senior advisor could fill in as host. When no senior spouse is available, hosting duties fall to the next in line, with a group of spouses from the unit’s coffee group coming together as a team and forming a committee.

When the need arises, command team spouses can be honored jointly at one gathering.


Setting the Date


Once the change of command/responsibility ceremony date is set, a welcome/farewell should be hosted within a few weeks based on the availability of the guest of honor.

If there is a schedule conflict, a “save the date” is a great way to let everyone know you haven’t forgotten.


Location, Location


Picking the venue allows for many fun options according to the wishes of the guest of honor and the budget of the volunteers.

While many welcomes/farewells are hosted in someone’s home; a restaurant, coffee shop or the unit’s conference room are great alternatives.


The Invitations


Whether digital or paper, there are many options for invitations, from casual to formal.

Your senior leader or unit/post social guide can offer advice on whom to invite, the wording of the invitation, as well as a list of VIPs to invite within the community and the unit.

The guest of honor may also wish to include special guests or family members.


Keep Your volunteers in mind!


spouseWhen calculating the cost of an event, be mindful of not overtaxing your volunteers, their time, or their money.

A large spread of food isn’t necessary; a lovely option is a simple dessert and coffee. It is traditional to give a gift to the guest of honor, but it should be within reason.


Any gifts must be within the limits set by the Department of Defense Joint Ethics Regulation — DOD 5000.07-R, JER, 2-100; para. 2-203a; para. 2-203a(1).

The event costs can be covered by asking unit spouses to provide the needed food and drink items, contributing money within their comfort level, or by an indicated amount on the invitation.


The timeline and guidelines are the same unless the spouse is not in the area.


If the command team spouse moves to the area, asking if they would like to have an event is appropriate. If the spouse does not move to the area, they can still opt to have a welcome.  They may still choose to be an active leader, even from afar, or attend events when they are in town.

If they decline the offer, sending a card and unit crest pin from the unit spouses is a nice touch. If there is no command team spouse, a welcome/farewell is not given outside of the unit for a volunteer filling the role.

There are many different views and no across-the-Army set rules on how a senior command spouse welcome/farewell should be done; however, most posts have a spouse social guide with helpful guidelines.  Whether you have a traditional “tea/coffee” or a fun evening out at a restaurant, make the event wonderful and memorable by recognizing each senior command team spouse.

The way you make people feel is what they will remember!


-Hooah hugs from your M:M Protocol Team — Ginger Perkins, Ann Crossley, Michelle Hodge and Lynda Smith 



*Check out more delightful posts from The Traditions and Protocol Team.



  • Protocol and Etiquette Team

    Ann Crossley and Ginger Perkins are the authors of "The Army Spouse Handbook," the go-to guide for the 21st century Army spouse. The 440-page book describes situations that you may encounter as an Army spouse, irrespective of your spouse’s rank or assignment. The book is not meant to be read from cover-to-cover, but kept handy and used as a reference book when you need to know what to expect in social situations. Michelle Hodge, a seasoned spouse, has taught protocol and customs classes and continues to be an advocate for soldiers and family members. Lynda Smith, the newest member of the Traditions and Protocol team, enjoys finding new ways to bring old Army traditions to life with fun and humorous experiences, a little old-school vibe, and a modern twist.


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