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Kaley Rhoden and Hanna Smelser

Dynamic Duo on a mission to find you your new bestie

Kaley Rhoden and Hanna Smelser are prepared for some fun fall activities. Photo credit: Missy Bouchat

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Making new friends isn't just a concern for kids moving to a new place, it plagues adults, too. Most of us hit our social peak at 5 years old, when running up to the first kid you could find, grabbing their hand and proclaiming them your best friend forever was just what everyone did. As adults, it can be anxiety-inducing and downright exhausting trying to find and then maintain these relationships. Enter Kaley and Hanna, creators of the JBLM Ladies Meet Up group on Facebook. They round up the group, place, and time so all you have to do is show up.

"Social media has had such a great impact on military spouses being able to connect," said Hanna.

Kaley and Hanna met about a year-and-a-half ago at a mutual friends house, in the same situation most of us have found ourselves: in a new place and feeling very alone. Kaley described it as, "The anxiety, the unknown, the not knowing, I felt so clueless and stressed. I thought, ‘how can I change this?'" They quickly bonded over their experience, and soon realized they weren't the only ones feeling this way. Hanna said, "We definitely recognized the need for community; we saw a lot of women that wanted this togetherness but didn't know a way of getting there." Kaley added, "We noticed the isolation -- you move here and you don't know anybody -- that inspired us." They began with the JBLM Walk Group and then "we would make plans to go dancing or to lunch and would be like, ‘let's invite everyone!'" The rest is history.  

"There really is such a need for encouragement and empowerment in this military community, and since we didn't necessarily have a place to jump into, we said we are going to do something about it and make our own and pave the way for everyone else," said Hanna.

The group typically meets three to four times a week, though not entirely orchestrated by Hanna and Kaley.  "We advertise other people's meet-ups and encourage people to create their own." The group meets for coffee socials, dinner, lunch, dancing, bowling, painting, and holiday events like Friendsgiving and Galentines Day. Basically, anything anyone wants to do, the girls are up for it, and will even organize a carpool.  

Reflecting on her experience, Hanna said, "What's been most rewarding for me is hearing other women talk about how this group is literally a life saver. It's not always easy being a military spouse, so it's awesome to have a group of girlfriends that you can vent to and trust. We've created a support system in the community that people feel comfortable in."  

Whether you are a spouse, servicemember, girlfriend, or family member, the group wants you there. What are you waiting for? As Hanna says, "Just say yes and figure out the rest later."

If you're looking to make some new friends and join in on the fun, request to be added to JBLM Ladies Meet Up on Facebook.

Do you know a spouse who inspires you? We would love to meet them. Please send info to

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