Veteran*Family*Community Collaborative: Children & Difficult Topics

MAMF Director Circe Olson Woessner and Dr. Natalie Williamson discuss how to prepare children for stressful events and how to discuss difficult topics.Because every situation is different, the opinions shared on this podcast won’t work for everyone or in every situation, but we hope the listener might get some useful tips. 

Topics covered in this podcast are: moving, loss, grief, bullying, communication, death, and suicide. 

Some useful links are: 

New Mexico Grief Center

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

“Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 (para ayuda en español, llame al 988). The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 911 in life-threatening situations. If you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company. They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Service members and Veterans in crisis, as well as their family members and friends, with qualified Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text messaging service. Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone or send a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder.  You can also start a confidential online chat session at Veterans Crisis Chat.”

National Education Association

Military One Source

The MilSpouse Oral Histories Project

My name is Margaret Reaske Robitaille.  I am an only child, and my maiden name ends with me.  Through my grandparents, I can trace a long and storied American past: from Ethan Allan and his Green Mountain Boys, through Lafayette Baker and the investigation into Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and – family rumor has it – some mid 20thcentury inmates of my current home, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  I am the first in my family to earn a varsity letter in sports or arts (tennis and music).  I earned three degrees with honors – a double bachelors in history and political science, a Master of Education, and a Master of Arts – wrote two history theses and compiled a masters portfolio.  I’ve worked in seven different states as a lifeguard, a teacher, a title researcher, and a barista; I also worked as a yoga model for a short time, and created a yoga program for soldiers, veterans, and their families at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I’ve trained for triathlons, and participated in numerous road races, including two marathons.  I’ve birthed three children and experienced two miscarriages; I coordinate school support, therapies, meetings, and medical records for two of our neurodivergent children.  I volunteer for Project Gutenberg, and work in cultural history research, with a focus on New England supernatural folklore and its fictive behavioral indorsement in the 18th and 19th centuries.  I’m 36, and a Scorpio.

            All this is more than enough to write a story of my own life, but I don’t.  My days are filled instead with the stories of other people: my husband and how I can support his Army career on this day and every other; my children and how I can support their schooling and extracurriculars and medical needs; and constant thoughts of where we’ve been as a military family, where we’ll go next, and how that might affect the million and three things that comprise a smoothly functioning and deeply connected family.  Some days, I feel accomplished, connected to the world, and a valuable part of our microcosmic clockwork.  Other days, I can’t seem to find 8 minutes to take a shower, finding myself buried under last-minute demands, or experiencing a sudden, shocking bereavement that leaves me feeling bereft and helpless to make anyone else’s life better.

Your story is important, and it deserves to be told-by you.


            It’s hard to tell if all of this is normal, in a military life or any other.  It can be easy to feel otherized as a military spouse: rarely in one’s home environment, rarely in one place long enough to make it feel like one’s home environment, constantly challenged to make new friends and keep track of a peer group who might be able to say, “I get that.  I go through it, too.”  It can be hard to keep in contact with those with whom one does connect: life happens, and that special military life makes sure it happens all at once, with the regular rotation of moves, new schools, and new routines often compacted into a matter of weeks.  These events can create distance between friends, not to mention conflict within families that often takes a considerable amount of emotional resilience.

            This, too, is my experience.  It’s also part of why I created the MilSpouse Oral Histories Project, an oral history initiative designed to preserve firsthand accounts of modern military spouses and their challenges, celebrations, and backgrounds.  We all need connection; we all need grounding; we all need to see ourselves in the community in which we are asked to thrive.  We all deserve to belong, and to feel important and part of something larger than ourselves, particularly when we sacrifice so much of ourselves for duty to our country and our servicemembers.  If you are a military spouse, past or present, please consider donating your story to the MOHP.  While you are dedicating your time to helping America’s military continue its story, take time to write your own.  Your story is important, and it deserves to be told – by you.

The website for the project is :


MAMF Director Circe Olson Woessner  speaks with brat-actor and Frankfurt American High School alum Zoë Yeoman, who has recently started a theater company in Albuquerque. Check out Actor’s Studio 66 and the Black Cat Cultural Center.

This podcast is brought to you by the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center. We are located in Tijeras, NM just east of Albuquerque. We collect stories in a variety of formats. Check us out, and if you’re interested, send us a story…or two…or three! We will accept short video or audio files, as well as written posts for our blogs. Query us or send a written story to:

Audio Podcasts: Together We Serve: “Service” stories from Brats, Vets, Spouses & Others, Schooling With Uncle Sam: Teachers & Students talk about their DOD school stories, America Remembers ‘Nam: Veterans and their families share their thoughts on Vietnam, Brat Time Stories: Can’t sleep? Check out our middle-of-the-night bedtime stories, written by, about and for the insomniac Brat

Our Blogs:

We Served Too,

Passports & Pedagogy: Schooling with Uncle Sam; Military Family Stories ;

Frontlines to Homefront:

And the MAMF Library:;


This podcast is brought to you by the Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center. The museum’s podcasts are supported, in part by New Mexico Arts, the New Mexico Humanities Council, Sandia Area Credit Union and organizations like Military Brat Seal and Military Brats Registry.