I am the 2013 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®. I wonder if I will ever get fully used to saying that. I have one year to get there.

In early May, I had the opportunity to travel to D.C. as the 2013 National Guard Spouse of the Year, a feat in and of itself. I was so honored, really, to have been se­lected by my peers and National Guard family, to raise the gauntlet for them.

I promised to advocate for better spouse employment opportunities, ad­ditional resources for our special needs families, and bring more attention to the overall needs of our particular military branch. I was selected to carry this agenda forward.

“Yes!” I told myself. “I will DO this!”

Nothing worthwhile could be done alone, and without want of accolades, I im­mediately reached out. Christine Vance, Virginia’s SOY, and Alina Wilson, Colo­rado’s SOY, are both amazing women doing fantastic work for our community. As we spoke, I found myself eager to carry for­ward their messages as well.

Team 2013 National Guard was born.

Armed with that fortitude, I ventured to D.C. to meet those others who also rep­resent their branches. I expected to respect them. I expected to be able to work with them. What I did not expect was to love them. I did not expect to love their beau­tiful spirits. And yet, we were unified.

THE WHY, AND THE HOW

The day I was selected as the 2013 MSOY was only better because of those by my side-my husband, and these wonder­ful ladies representing all branches of the military. Accolades are lovely-really. But passion is the reason why any of us select­ed as SOYs serve our military communities.

That day, from the Club at Fort Myer to the White House, I thought of nothing but the consequences and phenomenal privilege of becoming MSOY. Despite this, I wondered how any single person could effectively represent 1.1 million military spouses.

I mean, wow! Those were a lot of people! What would the effect be on what my Na­tional Guard families needed of me? Panic started to worm its way in. Heart still racing from the day’s earlier events, I had tea at the White House, was quoted by the First Lady, and hugged by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden.

And then Prince Harry! Wow! I have only two words here: Prince. Harry!

I wondered how to do this. Repre­senting the needs of 1.1 million military spouses requires that I listen to them. It requires that I focus on them. That was the epiphany, but how do I do that?

Days later, the answer came. I knew that I should focus on the effect of the DoD drawdown on our lives, and our ability to care for our families.

But on that first day, with my mind in overdrive, I packed my bags and headed home to see my sons. I needed to be near them. I needed my home base – my sanctuary.

I opened the door, laden with luggage, exhaustion on my face. Overcome to see my son sitting at the kitchen table. “Hey, Sonshine,” I said. He looked up, and saw me and smiled. “Hey Mom!” And then he said … “What’s for dinner?”

In that defining moment, I realized that to do any of this, I must lean in and lean on my contemporaries. We-that is, all of us who are Team MSOY 2013 and those who came in the five years before-will work together to care for our families.

This year is not mine-it is ours.

 

Leave a Comment