We are very excited for this month’s MPRA Spouse Spotlight! Dr. Jude Black is a proud MP spouse, a trailblazer in the world of mental health care, and a small business owner. Her story is interesting and intriguing and we hope you enjoy learning more about this great MP spouse.

How long have you been a military spouse?

Longer than I haven’t! I met my husband in college and have been with him ever since. We have been married over 26 years, separated  for duty-related service for over 66 months, had 19  homes, raised 3 boys (all born in different states) and I have held 16 different jobs. My life is built from a collection of threads woven together to create this amazing brightly colored mil-world. My husband just retired after almost 30 years of service.

What activities have you been involved in as an MP spouse?

Again, I think an easier question is what have I NOT been involved in? I have been involved in the FRGs at all levels to include participant, supporter, advisor, leader, and steering committee member at platoon, company, battalion and brigade levels. I was part of the infamous coffee groups (but we had so much fun!!!), I spearheaded welcoming committees, hospitality committees, and fund raising. I was part of the Army Family Team Building and instructed for several years. I have always been available for the Soldiers and spouses to counsel and mentor when life was just messy. Today, I provide pro-bono therapy for our MP Veterans and active duty Soldiers who struggle with trauma and combat related challenges.

What recommendations would you give a new MP spouse?

Easiest answer of all: BE YOU! Never let anyone dictate who you should or shouldn’t be. You be you.  Blissfully, beautifully, and uniquely you.

I vividly remember being handed the “Officer Wives Handbook” back in the day and told to “Read it, learn it, live it.” I remember being harshly judged and ostracized for not conforming to the “white glove, big hat” society. Oh boy! I remember being “encouraged” to attend protocol class and “learning” how to dress, who I should associate with, and how working outside of the corps was frowned upon. I remember my spouse being reprimanded for my behavior and my choices to befriend enlisted spouses. I also remember intentionally deciding to be that leader who empowers other spouses to be the best version of themselves possible, encouraging them to build on their strengths and embrace their amazing uniqueness while respecting memories and traditions of our MP family. I love the evolution of our MP family, the values, and beliefs. I love that we now embrace living our lives and being authentic.

What is your favorite memory as an MP spouse?

The connections. I remember being a very new spouse and all the MPs and spouses gathered together every weekend between deployments at Fort Bragg.  We played ball, camped, cooked out, swam, and then went out in the evenings. I was a mean pool player! We became family. Over 25 years later, I could call each and every one of those MPs and spouses – they would be there if need be. They would have my back, my husband’s back. They mattered, we mattered, and together we became each other’s world.

What do you do? Tell us about your career:

I get to talk story and help people heal. I am a Board Certified Clinical Mental Health Doctor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Licensed Professional Counselor in multiple states. I am also the CEO and Founder of E-Therapy Café Inc. E-Therapy Café is a premier online counseling company that I built with the transient military lifestyle in mind. My board certified, licensed professionals are dedicated to support, motivate, and encourage people all over the world. We provide an array of services: Relationship Counseling, Couples Counseling, Diet and Nutritional Counseling, Marriage Counseling, LGBT Counseling, Grief Counseling, Military Counseling, & Trauma Counseling and address life issues such as “being stuck,” adjustment, deployments, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, identity, and more. Most recently, we added Emotional Support Animal Therapy and prescribe EAS Letters when appropriate. I am so passionate about this company, the vision, and the good work we do! We always provide military discounts and recognize the sacrifices!

What has been your favorite duty station and why?

Schofield Barracks, HI.  Even though we endured a 17-month deployment, I was surrounded by an incredible support system who made that chapter of my life amazing! I hiked, camped, surfed, laughed, cried, loved, and lived. Even though my husband was deployed, the boys and I managed to thrive and we enjoyed our time on the island. The relationships and memories were priceless.

If you have children, what do you do as a family and how do you make time for family?

We always made sure we connected. We may not have had dinner together every night, but I made sure to kiss each of those three blonde boys every night before (and sometimes after) they fell asleep. We focused more on WHAT we were doing as opposed to the amount of time we spent together. I functioned under the assumption that we make time for appointments and things that mattered so we always made time and appointments for family time. What we did depended upon where we were. Sometimes we were watching the troops jump at Bragg, sometimes we were whale watching in Hawaii, sometimes it was hiking up to Seoul Tower in Korea, and sometimes, it was just reading a book, playing a game, or barbecuing. We were active and intentional with connecting.

What are your hobbies- what do you do to stay busy?

Hobbies? Oh my! I love to cook and I used to be more active than I am today. I ran the Army Ten Miler twice (it was ugly but I did it!). I love to play tennis (I was on the International Tennis Team in Korea). I need to commit to more tennis for my own personal therapy. Staying busy always involves my family.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go and why?

Just one?! I have two that are pretty equal. I would love to go to Greece and also Africa. Greece has always been a picturesque place that has pulled at my heart strings. Africa? Well, I want the safari and the stories! I want to talk with people that live there, experience their world, and connect. It is ALWAYS about the story.