Today Military Spouse magazine announced the Top 18 candidates for the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year. I was beyond humbled, honored, and surprised when I realized that I was amongst the Top 18! You can read about all 18 candidates here. The next round of voting will occur on ONE DAY – February 4th for the branch-level winners (one per branch). I encourage all of you to read about all of the candidates, and vote for EACH category (National Guard, Marines, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, and Air Force).
As mentioned in my 2015 Military Spouse of the Year: Round One Update post, I was named the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year for the Oregon National Guard. This is an honor and responsibility that I take whole heartedly, and I have big dreams and ambitions for what I can do within this role. Jeff Bezos said, “You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you.” This couldn’t be more true.
I have wanted to get involved with supporting and lifting up other military spouses for quite some time, a dream that started during my husband’s first deployment 4 years ago. When this second deployment reared its head in our life – I decided I couldn’t be silent anymore. What if I could help one person, just one person by sharing my story and voicing my opinions and dreams? I didn’t know how to start, but I knew that I just had to start, period. You can read more about my passion and reasons for being a MilSpouse blogger/writer here.
Locally, I’m looking into the opportunity to speak on a panel at upcoming Yellow Ribbons events in some “spouse to spouse” sessions. I look forward to the opportunity to speak to and with other spouses about reintegration, the unique challenges we face as National Guard families, and be a resource and sounding board for those spouses who need emotional support. The first time my husband deployed, I quickly learned how easy it is to feel alone – and I am actively working to prevent that from happening to any other spouse.
I am also currently working on my first book (title to be released upon obtaining a publisher), with the focus of the unique challenges we face as National Guard spouses and families. It’s not a how-to book, there are no checklists or steps – it’s just me, talking about emotional survival, challenges, and the path to strengthen my own marriage by learning to understand my husband’s heart (no matter how difficult it makes our life). I’m about four chapters into my book, and I’m very excited to share it once it is complete! My dream is to have it handed out (for free obviously) at all Yellow Ribbon events.
In regard to Yellow Ribbon events themselves, I want to start working with my local state to hopefully be involved in the process to revamp how they are currently conducted. Feedback that I have heard from most people within the military disregard those events and brush them off – as they have not truly spoken to the hearts of those that attend. I want the events to be meaningful, purposeful, and one that spouses and their families want to attend.
The other big issue with these events is that they are usually spread out, and many families cannot attend due to the nature of the National Guard (families having no local base and being very spread out geographically). I want to create more online resources or a system to allow those spouses and families that can’t attend the events to have access to the same level of information. Make sure that the any and all information at the Yellow Ribbon event is accessible to ALL spouses and families (within OPSEC of course). I don’t want distance, life obligations, or any other circumstance to get in the way of providing the highest level of information and support.
Finally, I want to help bridge the gap between the various branches of the military. I firmly believe that we are one family, one united front. As stated in my Military Equality post: The Army cannot do it on their own. The Marines cannot do it on their own. The Air Force cannot do it on their own. The Navy cannot do it on their own. The Coast Guard cannot do it on their own. They must work in unity, in oneness.
Now yes, I understand each plays a different role, and each has a different set of ranks, military specialties, etc. That’s not my point. My point is, they serve the same nation. They serve the same people. They serve you. They serve me. In our Pledge of Allegiance, we pledge allegiance to who? The United States of America. What do we stand for? One nation, indivisible. How do we accomplish this? With liberty and justice FOR ALL.
This is part of my mission, and I’m working on a project to close the gap both in the civilian world and the military community. To bring awareness that each branch has their own set of unique challenges – none of which are better or worse than another branches’ challenges. They are just different – and we need to support everyone. Lift everyone up. Be a nation indivisible. Will you join me?