5 Common MSOY Misconceptions
1. Eligibility is unclear.
First, ALL profiles are written by nominees in their own words, at their own pace. There is no interview of any sort at the installation level. There is no editing of any kind. And, we assume that when nominees click “I have read and understand the complete rules and regulations” as part of the acceptance process, that they have taken the time to determine their own eligibility and understand fully what is involved.
Second, the military spouse community is a very smart, savvy and very educated group. The rules are written in very clear form, both on the website for anyone to see and BEFORE a nominee is allowed to accept his/her nomination. We put a lot of responsibility on nominees to be truthful, demonstrate integrity and verify their own facts before posting information about themselves. That’s how it should be. We trust our military spouses.
How the winners are determined is outlined in very clear and concise terms, in a very public fashion on our website. There is no ambiguity, and we hide nothing except what we are legally required to keep personal. (To read the rules and eligibility requirements click here)
2. Why we don’t allow widows anymore
This is a tough one. But, after careful consideration, over two years ago we elected to modify the criteria to allow only active duty. This change has been in the very first line of the rules since 2012. This was done primarily because of input we have received from many Gold Star Wives and our past winner, and former nominees who were Gold Star Wives.
Why? Because it felt wrong to take their worst moment, the biggest tragedy in their lives… and make every day about it. It didn’t feel right to put them in interviews and ask them to retell their moments over and over again. Everything became about THAT moment instead of what they were doing and accomplishing.
What did feel right was letting our Gold Star Wives grieve and mourn in private, and not put the added pressure of this award on them.
For these and many additional reasons shared with us by nominees in the past, we now stipulate that an ID card carrying spouses be of a CURRENT (as in CURRENTLY SERVING) member of the US Armed Forces.
We cannot imagine a more tragic and heartbreaking life than one with a spouse Killed in Action. But we are not going to glorify it for the awards’ purposes.
3. It’s just a popularity contest
The first round of voting is based entirely on the population’s votes. In that sense of the word it is a “population’s” contest, but there are many reasons why a person casts a vote. Maybe it is a family member or friend of the nominee, maybe they like what a nominee stands for, maybe their life was personally touched by a nominee and they want that person to help others…it doesn’t matter WHY, the fact is that the installation round is based on how the public votes.
This is also how student councils are chosen, city council members and our own congressional leaders. The will of the people is a powerful thing.
4. Why only recognize a few, everyone should be a spouse of the year?
That’s a very good sentiment, but 2014 is going to be a tough year for military and families. We need military spouse leaders engaged, informed and at the ready. And, frankly, we are going to need all the representation and help we can get to keep our benefits intact, fight against loss and fight FOR our service members. Having installation winners allows us to help galvanize and access leader spouses at key, local levels when needed. Boots on the ground spouses are critical to acting as one, cohesive, informed unit.
And, spouses DESERVE representation. We deserve to have our voices heard from leaders within our own community. We are steadily making our mark in that venue and have a seat at every table as a result.
5. The duty station should be where the spouse is presently living, not the duty assignment.
Actually, no. WHERE a spouse wins an installation level title is based solely and exclusively on WHERE the active duty member is stationed at the time the nomination is accepted. Geo-baching is commonplace in our community and service members are TAD and TDY regularly from their home stations.
Here are two examples of real-life situations:
- A spouse lives in X, the service member is stationed at Y. Y is the duty station.
- A service member is stationed at and the spouse lives at Y, while the service member is TDY, or deployed, to X. Y is the duty station.
The answer is consistent and always the same: Y is the duty station.
In order to have one, firm guideline the decision was made to identify by active duty service member CURRENT duty station. And, this is the only fair answer.
We understand there is disappointment and letdown along the way. That’s an indicator of a desire to win, and that is a GOOD thing. This is a wonderful program that fosters great relationships, camaraderie, leadership and professionalism. It is an excellent learning tool for all military spouses who want to make a difference. Relationships and bonds are formed across ranks, services and demographics. It’s a tight-knit group of military spouses with one common goal: Doing what is best for the WHOLE community.