This is Your Year

It’s about to be 2013! How is that even possible? I’m one of those people who are still stuck in the ’80s. I remember the Challenger exploding, our Apple IIe, and the Berlin Wall falling. Thankfully for my wife and kids, I’m no longer wearing parachute pants, a mullet, or a Members Only jacket.

The transition into a New Year allows us each to think about our past, the lives we are leading and what the future holds for each of us. I’d like to encourage each of you to make this new year your year to make a difference. Set a New Year’s resolution to find a way to impact the world around you for the betterment of our community, whether that’s military or civilian.

I’m reminded of a quote by Sen. Robert Kennedy from June 1966, when he visited the University of Cape Town in South Africa: “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

In that speech, Sen. Kennedy mentioned a number of dangers, the first being the danger of futility; as he put it “the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills – against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence.” Fortunately, I don’t believe many military spouses subscribe to the concept of futility.

To that end, I’ve had the incredibly humbling opportunity to see how one military spouse can make a difference. I think of:

Haley Dennison Uthlauts: A West Point graduate who lost her husband, Ryan Dennison, in Iraq in 2006, went back to school and got her MBA, and subsequently started In Gear Career to help military spouses find employment.

Karen Guenther: Started the Semper Fi Foundation.

El Brown: An Army spouse who saw a need and started her own small business, Kinder Jam, to help our youngest military kids learn through movement.

Stephanie Geraghty: A military spouse who started Stroller Warriors, now almost a thousand strong across seven different bases.

Mary Reding: A National Guard spouse and lawyer who started the Military Spouse JD Network to help with license issues and employment for military spouses with law degrees (amazing how many of them there are).

Did I mention that each of these ladies is doing all of this while raising some amazing kids? Let me make something clear: These are remarkable women. But besides their determination, grit and desire to make a difference, there isn’t anything particularly special about any of these spouses. They aren’t rich. They don’t have super strength, nor can they walk on water. Each of them has simply found their passion and put their talents toward improving our military family community.

There is nothing stopping each of you from making a similar impact. I don’t care what rank your spouse wears. I don’t care what color her uniform is or whether or not you are active duty, Reserves or National Guard. If I’m not being clear enough, let me say it again. YOU (yes, you) CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! You are that ripple of hope. You are put here on this earth to make a difference and you can. It’s a new year. Let’s all start it out right.

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