Below are the Top 18 Base Level Spouses of the Year who will be moving on to compete at the Branch Level. Voting takes place on Tuesday, February 4th 2014!
USCG District 13
I would love to have the opportunity to help other spouses understand the importance of being involved in their communities and the positive effects it will have on their families and the military’s reputation locally and otherwise. We should be spending our time in each place actively involved in enriching our communities instead of just waiting for the next move or the next promotion. The more I reach out the more support our Coast Guard members have received here locally.
USCG District 17
Small changes make big differences. After experiencing developmental issue with my son, and health issues of my own, as a family we chose to remove artificial chemicals from our diet. Through the years, I’ve learned many economical ways to do this, but our current location has made it difficult. I would love to be able to advocate for all of our families in promoting healthy food choices and to have more of those products available at our commissaries and exchanges. Our first lady, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and the DoD’s “Healthy Base Initiative” are two examples of how our government is trying to educate our nation with regards to maintaing a healthy lifestyle. The DoD is supporting a Healthy Base Initiative a few locations, I would love to make this happen at all of our bases.
USCG District 14
My husband had been in the military for 23 years when we first got married. The day after we went to the office to get my spouses’ I.D. and add me to the DEERS system and that was it. I often wondered why there was no welcome packet as a new spouse or a contact to guide me through the ins and outs of being a military spouse. I had no idea what an Ombudsman was or even how to get a hold of one. Then I see these enlisted folks who are newly married and see their young brides trying to make their way in a new place far away from their familiar surrounds and family. The adjustment can be more difficult than anticipated. The enlisted member or even the higher-ranking member may not be aware of the existing programs and resources available to the spouse. This to me makes the transition challenging and creates additional stress on the spouse and the military member.
There are many things I would like to accomplish. Choosing only 1 thing is hard, so I will prioritize. Continuing my advocacy for our military families is vital. Standing beside our families, being the voice and advocating those needs while getting results is probably the most important thing I could do . Encouraging our families to come together, volunteer and help one another out is amazing! Our service members give back everyday. They set the bar high. It’s only natural that we follow in their footsteps. Our military families are amazing and resilient. They give their all and I think they deserve the best!
MCBC Smedley D. Butler
Professional growth and entrepreneurial opportunities for overseas military spouses are very limited and in most cases non-existent. I plan to use this platform to: Bring more entrepreneurial and business opportunities via a 2-day “I Serve Too” business workshop to assist spouses who have amazing ideas, talents and passions but don’t know what to do with it; and to teach spouses who already own a business how to grow it by providing local access to small business resources such as accounting, marketing, legal, etc. AND Bring Lemonade Day to Okinawa, an initiative that empowers today’s youth to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. One lemonade stand at a time, this program teaches kids to start, own and operate their very own business.
MCAS Cherry Point
If I were to win the MSOY title I would work incredibly hard to change the face of military deployments. I would work with units to create pre-deployment briefs and events that weren’t scary, awkward, and intimidating. I would create a loving, open environment where military members, spouses, and children could voice their concerns and find solutions from others who have gone before them. I would also focus on ensuring that ALL military families are given equal respect and rights. In 2014, I want to help create a military that doesn’t judge; a military where spouses support each other; a military where everyone receives the love and respect they deserve from the rest of the country. Lastly, I would want to work with the previous MSOYs to raise awareness on what is happening in our government, and what we can do to help each other, and ourselves. The MSOY is a diplomat for the military community and I would do everything possible to make 2014 a great year for us all.
Connecticut National Guard
Financial insecurity surrounding military transition and spouse employment issues continue to top the concerns list according to the latest Blue Star Military Family survey. With more than one million servicemembers transitioning by 2017, I expect this to be a concern that continues to top the survey.I believe the need goes way beyond jobs, to opportunity. Workforce Development with an emphasis on Veterans and Military Spouses and smooth entry to entrepreneurship as ways to provide increased opportunity for this community in needed.Many employers, especially away from military bases, aren’t aware of the attributes or culture of the military so can misinterpret multiple jobs or long absences from the workforce on resumes. Furthermore, they are often insulated from the military lifestyle and have trouble understanding the sacrifice and challenges associated with military life. Breaking down these barriers will allow employers to see the long-term benefits of hiring from the military community and provide meaningful support in the process. Educating employers will help to build understanding and will lead to more workforce opportunities for Military Spouses, Guard/Reservists, and Veterans!
Massachusetts National Guard
The one thing I would want to accomplish with the MSOY title is greater awareness of and treatment for the unique mental health needs of our military families. As I discussed earlier, often it is our families that fall through the cracks with deployments, PCS moves and all of the challenges they present. So being able to meet the needs of our families through the use of wrap-around services for the entire family, preventive services, improved crisis intervention, in-home access to services and seamless transition of care can help stem the tide of mental illness within our community. As MSOY I would strive to support initiatives that would provide these services to our military families. I would also commit to helping to connect military spouses within the fields of health and mental health with our military families in need. Military spouses that work in the health and mental health fields have a unique opportunity to provide services to our military community with the added benefit of having a deep understanding of what this military life entails. That could make a big difference in treatment outcomes and in engagement in treatment. Two obstacles that have been difficult to overcome. We are just now starting to see the very real effects of over a decade of war on our service members, spouses and children. We need to act now to help with the aftermath of war, and I would commit to support these endeavors within our communities with a three part plan: 1. Make use of best-practices for treatment of mental health issues (i.e., wrap-around services, prevention programs, increase in in-home treatment, etc). 2. Promote military spouse health/mental health clinician employment within our communities. 3. Increase education to decrease the stigma associated with mental health issues. This plan can begin to address the mental health issues that are affecting our families, and I would support these types of initiatives if I were chosen to be the Military Spouse of the Year.
New Jersey National Guard
When I first met my husband, I didn’t know what it meant to be a military wife. I just knew that I loved a soldier. And that my love was strong enough to weather whatever life might hand us. In those early days, Ian was a typical “weekend warrior”. I lent him to the Army one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer. And I missed him terribly when he was gone. Especially those two weeks – they were a lifetime without him. But September 11th changed that. Suddenly, he was deploying as often as the Active Duty guys. New Orleans. Guantanamo. Afghanistan. I was in a new world struggling to “keep it together” on the home front. To make sure the kids were hanging in there and that the house remained standing and that life remained as “normal” as is possible when someone you love is a world away and in danger. And I knew I wasn’t alone. But our families are often invisible. The communities where the typical citizen soldier lives don’t understand the 24/7 implications of being the ones left behind when a soldier is called to serve. Military spouses frequently go into “survival mode” when their soldier deploys. If it’s not bleeding or hungry, it’s not an emergent need. We have a right to step outside of survival mode. To have needs met before a crisis arises. To live in compassionate and supportive communities. Everything I do is about building those kinds of communities. We’ve heard time and again (and with more budget cuts in the works we’ll see even more clearly) that we will need to rely upon “outside sources” to provide the support and services our military families deserve. My goal is to make EVERY community one that our families can turn to in need. It is my intention to give voice to the families who also serve when their loved ones are called to duty. And to call to action the communities in which they live. I have spent the past 20 years advocating for military families. The MSOY title would allow me to continue this mission with far greater reach and impact.
NAS JRB New Orleans
One of my main focuses is really pushing all the FREE programs that the Fleet and Family Support Center offers, such as Stress Management, Clinical Counseling, Prepping your Resume just to name a few. With deployments becoming longer and more frequent these free programs need to be up front and center. Reaching out to young spouses new to the military and new to deployments, who are trying to juggle a new baby, new location, finding a friendly face in the crowd can help ease some of the anxiety we all feel.
One thing I would want to accomplish would be to shine a brighter light on employment for career-focused military spouses. A Blue Star Families Survey from 2010 showed 49% of Military Spouses feel that being a Military Spouse negatively impacted their ability to pursue a career. This number inspires me as much as it saddens me. I want every state to recognize and every spouse to realize the unique gifts, the unmatched experiences and the priceless “can-do” spirit that we as military spouses have to offer. We are our service members number one fan and biggest supporter. We love the friendships we’ve made along the way because of our spouses career. Navigating the unique demands of a military lifestyle, however, can often leave us feeling last, putting our own personal dreams and goals on hold. I want to empower spouses to be bold with their choices. I want to inspire them to navigate the unique demands of their career journey with as much patient, persistence that they demonstrate when conquering all other aspects of the military lifestyle.
Walter Reed/Bethesda Medical Center
I would like to bring attention to why we do what we do. I find many civilians have assumptions about why our service members serve. And rarely included in those assumptions is that notion that we believe in service. We believe our country is great, and worth defending and protecting. We believe in sacrifice and taking care of others. If I had the honor of being selected Military Spouse of the Year, I would like to communicate to, and inspire our nation to be aware that while there are many reasons our service members join the military, at the core is the desire to be a part of something that is bigger than them and to serve our nation.
JB San Antonio
Aside from continuing to champion the cause and recognition for all deserving male military spouses, I would also work to bring our military community together to speak as one. We’re currently witnessing how important it is to speak up when it comes to defending our family’s financial security. I want to help lay the groundwork for a network of military spouses, business leaders, organizations, and advocates that would defend our best interests during times of need. Not a union or lobbying group, but a way to give our voices more credibility and influence over policy makers in Washington.
As the Military Spouse of the Year I will encourage spouses to prioritize their health to best support the family and to help people set and reach goals, no matter how small or large. There is no better feeling than cheering someone on to success and seeing them reach their true potential. Success comes from making progress not perfection and taking one day at a time. Forming bonds with other spouses makes the process fun as well! I would love to bring more spouses together and I challenge anyone reading this to form alliances. We need to push beyond the bickering and pettiness that can occur in some negative environments. While it can be easy to speak poorly of others or go with the crowd, I encourage people to stand up for what is right and work with the same integrity, dignity, and class that our spouses work with. We should aim to be the best spouse we can be by encouraging everyone around us to remain positive and uplifting, reaching out to others, and making new friends based on commonalities and interests. We don’t have to do this alone! If your passion is working out, then find workout buddies. If you love crocheting, then find someone that enjoys that too! If given the MSOY title I will encourage all spouses on all bases to form alliances and do exactly what I have done in this community. Don’t ever be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone. That is where lifelong friendships are found, as well as enjoyment and happiness.
More community involvement between the branches at base installations where more than one branch is present and more education seminars of the signs and symptoms of PTSD and abuse. This title would give me more reach to connect with spouses who feel like they have nobody to talk to and help find them appropriate resources to give them a more positive outlook. If I was given the opportunity to be MSOY, I would use this title to connect with more USAF and other branches spouses groups. My goal is gather a panel of spouses to help create an overall Well Health Seminar which would work towards empowering spouses with knowledge and tips to maintain safe conversations about the mental health issues that plague our military. Whether I reach only one spouse or ten groups or possibly help save a life through resources like the VA Suicide Hotline or a through a helpful phone call then My mission of unity, education and mental wellness is being accomplished. Military Spouse of the Year is a stepping-stone to reach as many spouses as I can who feel they are alone and lost. I hope by having this title any spouse struggling at NAS Pensacola or any other installation will know that they are NEVER ALONE and that there are resources to get them plugged into other spouses like themselves.
So hard to choose just one… As Military Spouse of the Year, I really want to be a voice for empowerment and engagement. I want to get more military spouses involved in our political process. Whether as advocates or as part of our elected leadership, we NEED more military spouses. This is true both because they are in tune with the military community’s needs, but also because they are people who understand service and sacrifice for our country. Not to mention, military spouses get stuff done! I would also want to be a voice for remote families. A large and growing number of us are living the military life separated from the traditional support system. It’s tough; we have to get creative about finding ways to plug in to the military community sometimes. But it’s also a gift in one sense–that we do live in civilian communities, and sometimes because of that, we are a bridge across the divide. We have the opportunity to educate people who might not otherwise come into contact with military life any other way. Lastly, I would also want to represent professional military spouses, and bring awareness to the hard work being done across this country to make it easier for a milspouse to have a career while also supporting a servicemember. My hope is that if our efforts are successful, then one day families will no longer have to live remotely to serve and be a two-career household. I believe what General William Suter (Ret.) said at an MSJDN event last May: “When you help a military spouse you help a military family, and don’t you forget it!”
No Base (Reserve, ROTC, etc…)
I have a unique appreciation for music and the power it possesses to heal (both emotionally and psychologically). I have witnessed firsthand the positive effect that the systematic use of music can have on someone who is dealing with stress, PTSD, deployments, mental illness, depression, and other traumatic situations. I would want to use the title of MSOY to muster support and increase awareness of music therapy programs that exist and stand ready to help our veterans, wounded warriors, and their families. When words on a page or advise from a counselor may fall on deaf ears, it is often music that can penetrate the soul and help someone navigate their way through challenging times. I recall performing a song titled “Hero to Me” at the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall and a veteran approached me afterwards in tears to let me know that the song had spoken to him – it meant the world to him. I realized in that moment that I wanted to promote and pursue every opportunity to further the reach of music therapy. Our military and their families are ripe for this opportunity!
My goal is to use this platform to personally reach out to my fellow Americans both military and civilians and show the impact of the loss of our Fallen Service Members from all branches of the Military. I also want to bring awareness to everyone on the lasting effects of PTSD and the importance of quality mental healthcare for our Veterans from all services. This event serves so many purposes, the main one is to honor the sacrifice of our Fallen Service Members. It’s also to help those loved ones and Battle Buddies left behind by opening the doors to allow people to cope with their grief. We tend to forget about Battle Buddies and Families quickly after the initial loss. This event was created because of my children’s friend who was KIA, there is not a day that goes by we don’t think about him and his family, my son was preparing for his first deployment and I knew, it could be him. I wanted to raise awareness about Fisher House and our mission to help military families during a medical crisis, which sometimes leads to death but we also have so many wounded or changed both physically and emotionally. This event helped those fighting the invisible injuries. They really never had a chance to grieve downrange because the mission continued and they needed to stay mission focused. This event gave them that opportunity, something tangible and the name and face of each person was once again brought to life by the stories told about them by families and friends. Allowing the community to take part in preparing this no cost event allowed so many to heal if only for a moment. After the run was over we had thousands of visitors who spent countless hours going through the boot display touching them, looking at pictures, leaving tokens, praying, crying and talking story about so many. It was like a temporary Section 60. I am looking to take this event to other locations so we can do the same. The feedback has been amazing from Gold Star Families as well as our military and civilian communities. There is no other event like this that includes all branches as well as those we have lost from suicide and training accidents. If they have served, they deserve to be honored for their life and how they served not shunned because of the demons who haunt them and caused them to take their lives. Having this MSOY title would help me work with established organizations as well as get the information to the masses so others can duplicate this very simple kind gesture in numerous locations. I want to not only advocate for our Gold Star Families but also every military family who continues to serve on the home front supporting their Service Members who are prepared to go into harm’s way when called upon. I also want to connect the resources that already exist by partnering with them to make a more solid support system for us all.