On Human Flourishing – an interview with Patty Shinseki

Human Flourishing Blog_image Podcast

In honor of this week’s Veterans Day observance, Samueli Institute’s twice monthly podcast, On Human Flourishing, features an exclusive interview with teacher, military family advocate and Army spouse Patty Shinseki. Shinseki and Jonas discuss unique challenges facing military families—especially school-age children—and what lessons society as a whole can learn from the resilience of military communities. 

Military families and children of service members experience unique stresses related to deployment, long separations, and the challenges of frequent relocation. Shinseki and her husband, General Eric Shinseki, relocated more than 30 times during his military service, shifting often from overseas deployments back to the continental United States.

“Our children went to eight or nine school districts and with each one we would learn about the variances in the school systems, the differences in requirements for graduation, and differences in academic standards,” explained Shinseki. “So I have devoted my time and energy to helping the military child’s needs and serving organizations like the Military Child Education Coalition, which works to provide a quality education experience for military children affected by transition.”

In her conversation with Dr. Jonas, Shinseki talks about what she has learned as a military spouse and how the strength of military families is at its core rooted in a shared devotion to service.

“The beauty of growing up in the military is that young people are surrounded by the core values of service greater than self. I think it rubs off within the family structure,” Shinseki explains. “When children see mom or dad putting on a uniform every day, going to work on time, and working very hard, I think that there is an element of pride of being part of something very special.”

Shinseki is also a member of the leadership council for The Franklin Project, an Aspen Institute effort led by General Stanley McCrystal to make one year of full-time national service, whether in military or paid civilian service in an array of areas, including health, poverty, conservation or education, available to all Americans. On this week’s podcast Shinseki and Jonas discuss how a focus on at least a year of service for all Americans could improve the health, wellbeing and resilience for all.