News: Mollie Gross offers support, comedy to military spouses
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - More than 10 years ago, Mollie Gross was sitting on a couch in tears. She left a busy life of work, school and friends in South Carolina to accompany her new husband, an active-duty Marine, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Before she even finished unpacking, she was already living lonely days in an empty house while her husband trained. But it wasn’t long before she chose to leave the couch for a better view than another episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”
The comedian, motivational speaker and author of “Confessions of a Military Wife,” made Marine Corps Base Hawaii spouses and service members laugh - and sometimes cry - in the Fairways Ballroom at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, March 30, 2014.
Gross has visited various military installations, performing military spouse comedy since 2008, and adding motivational speaking in 2010.
“They want to laugh,” Gross said. “They also want to be reminded that they serve too. I don’t think they hear enough that what they do on the homefront matters. It’s also important to laugh and have a positive attitude.”
Through coordination by Marine Corps Community Services Hawaii and support from various spouses, Gross gave a one-hour presentation, staying afterward for photos and autographs.
“The spouses were asking for her,” said Bobbie Brock, special events coordinator at MCCS. “She’s got great energy, and she really has a wonderful story to tell, having been a military spouse. I think she could relate to the (spouses) and (they) could relate to her.”
Throughout her presentation, Gross addressed the challenges of being a military spouse and encouraged the spouses in the audience to be thankful for what they have, pursue their dreams and support each other.
“Right now matters to your (service member),” Gross said. “Right now matters to this country, and right now matters to someone 50 years from now. So the attitude and the choices now are your legacy and they matter.”
Amanda Herman, a Marine spouse, had relieved stress by reading Gross’ book while she and her husband made a permanent change of station. She said she loved the presentation and could relate to Gross as a spouse.
“It opens up a new perspective on the (military spouse) life,” Herman said.
At 5 years old, Gross made friends and family laugh, and they encouraged her to pursue a comedy career. While working and attending University of South Carolina for a bachelor’s degree in theater, speech and dance, Gross met her current husband, Jon, and moved with him to Camp Pendleton.
Before she left home, she told her grandmother how frightened she was about her new life to come. Her grandmother responded simply, “Then you stay, I’ll go.”
Gross’ grandmother was also a military spouse, whose husband served in World War II. Gross said all her grandmother wanted was to marry Gross’ grandfather, and have a large family — and she did.
“She made it happen, because that’s what she wanted,” Gross said.
It wasn’t long before Gross left the confines of the base to seize the opportunity to attend comedy classes and comedy coaching in Los Angeles while her husband was deployed.
Today, military installations in various branches request Gross’ comedy or motivational speaking.
“Laughter is universal,” Gross said. “I can talk to a Navy wife who’s been in for 25 years, an Army wife or (any military) wife who’s been in for three minutes. Everybody wants to be made to laugh, and everybody wants to know that they matter.”
Gross is scheduled to speak next at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. She currently lives in Los Angeles, writing for an advice column called “Ask Mollie,” which is featured in Military Spouse Magazine and other publications. She is also currently working on two more books.
Gross encourages military spouses to send her messages through her Facebook page if they have questions, stories to share or comments about her book.
“I want to hear from (the spouses),” Gross said. “I want to know what’s going on in their lives, to stay in touch with what they’re feeling.”
Brock said she appreciated the spouses for their efforts in encouraging Gross’ appearance and attending the event.
“They asked for her, they brought her out, they showed up and they enjoyed the show,” Brock said. “We would definitely consider bringing her back (to MCB Hawaii).”