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.