Military spouses can have a tough job. They move from duty station to duty station, setting up home for a short time, before moving to another location. They and their children take part in communities across the country and world. They “keep the home fires burning” while their soldiers are deployed.


Military spouses can have a tough job. They move from duty station to duty station, setting up home for a short time, before moving to another location. They and their children take part in communities across the country and world. They “keep the home fires burning” while their soldiers are deployed.
To honor their sacrifice, more than 100 Fort Polk spouses received comic relief and cooking instructions during Military Spouse Appreciation Day May 11 hosted by the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation at the Warrior Community Center. The celebration was full of free gifts, door prizes, raffles and food. Many of the spouses in attendance had never been to an appreciation day before.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day has been observed since May 25, 1984, when President Ronald Reagan recognized the importance of spousal commitment to the readiness and well being of military members. The Secretary of Defense later standardized the date to be the Friday before Mother’s Day.
Chef Scott Landry, from Lake Charles, was on hand for entertainment and a cooking lesson, teaching the audience how to make chicken and sausage jambalaya and a pudding pie.
Landry is no stranger to Fort Polk — he was invited for Spouse Appreciation Day in 2010.
Landry is an executive chef of 25 years who has cooked for a variety of people including three U.S. Presidents, parts of the royal family in England and Italy, country singers, rock and roll groups and rappers. He combines Cajun cooking with stories of his life, ranging from cute anecdotes about his children to humorous tales of past careers.
Landry has performed around the world in 44 states and seven countries, but said it’s special performing for military families.
“It’s great to do things like this," Landry said. "They’re appreciative for me coming here and I’m appreciative of their spouses. Serving the country is not something everybody can do. If I can give back a little for all they give for all of us, it’s a blessing. And if they like it, it’s so much better."
He didn’t always combine his cooking with comedy. He noticed some people were bored during culinary shows, leaving without learning much due to boredom. The comedy helps keep things exciting, Landry said.
 “It’s like Walt Disney said — ‘We educate through entertainment,’" he said. "If I can entertain and they learn something at the same time, I’m a step ahead of the game. I’m also able to promote Louisiana."
Landry said he hopes spouses take his cooking tips and apply them in their own household.
“I hope we can relieve some of the stresses of their husbands being gone," he said. "We like that this recipe (chicken and sausage jambalaya) can utilize leftovers, bring food cost budget down and help families eat different foods. And if we can make them laugh, that’s good too.”
Two spouses, Trish Shepard and Patti Witt, whose husbands are part of the same battalion, thought the cooking show was fun. It was their first time attending any Spouse Appreciation Day celebration.
Shepard said she didn’t know what to expect of the celebration.
“I just wanted to have fun," she said. "These celebrations are a real morale boost."
Witt said she was hoping for a fun day with other spouses when she chose to attend the celebration.
“I think the spouses have a hard job keeping everything running," she said. "It’s fun for them to have a special day and the cooking demonstration was very fun.”
Brig. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commander, and JRTC and Fort Polk Command Sgt. Maj. LaMarquis Knowles, visited the celebration to give a thank-you to the spouses.
“We’ve been a nation at war for more than 10 years," Chinn said. "I know and the Army knows it’s been tough on the spouses and families. One thing we say is that the strength of the Army is the soldiers, and the strength of the soldiers comes from the Army families."
He said the families are key to the strength of their soldiers, allowing them to do their jobs without worrying about what is going on at home.
“In the end, it’s about answering our nation’s call," Chinn said. "Thank you for what you do to take care of our families and units and for what you do for the community. That’s what makes the Army great and allows us to be Army strong. We couldn’t do this without you and your strength. Thank you for what you do day in and day out. Army wives, lead the way.”