…in this season of Oscars and Golden Globes, Military spouses have their own award competition
And all of us have a chance to help choose the Armed Forces Insurance/Military Spouse Magazine Military Spouse of the Year 2013 for each service branch on February 5.
In my opinion, all military spouses are award-winners. Enduring separations from their service member through deployments, training or schooling, they learn to balance their own careers, continuing education or important work at home with the needs of their families, their unit and military community. Most work quietly or behind the scenes, volunteering for their installations to man important family programs. From Family Readiness Groups to scouting leaders to sports team coaches, military spouses are adept at wearing multiple hats as they serve their communities.
But it is nice to see that these incredible individuals have a chance to be recognized on a larger stage through the Military Spouse of the Year program.
As you’ll see on the award’s web site: www.msoy.militaryspouse.com, Military Spouse magazine started the Military Spouse of the Year® (MSOY) award in 2008 to honor military spouses of all ranks and from all branches of service. It was a way to acknowledge the service and commitment of the more than one million military spouses living around the globe. More recently, Military Spouse introduced service-level awards and installation recognitions in order to “(ensure) that each and every base, district (Coast Guard), and state (National Guard) has a representative.”
On Monday, Feb. 5, voting opens for the service branch Spouse of the Year awards. You can visit the web site above to see the top nominees and short biographical information for the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and National Guard. Voting for the National winner will be held on March 5. You are allowed one vote during the 24-hour period. Several candidates come from the Military District of Washington community.
Amanda Anderson is a candidate for the Army Spouse of the Year Award as the DC area Military Spouse of the Year. Amanda was nominated by her husband Rich. In his nominating essay he wrote: “(In four years of marriage) we have been separated for about 65% of that time due to (combat deployments and training)…In addition to caring for our home and two young boys, Amanda served as the FRG leader for a firing battery that I commanded in Afghanistan in 2011. She provided comfort and support for over 60 military spouses and their families and subsequently earned the Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher Award…” Since moving to the DC area, Amanda joined the National Military Family Association team were she serves as the content manager for their MyMilitaryLife app. She’s the one compiling the information that puts answers at the fingertips of military families everywhere who are using the app.
Seeing a need and stepping up is typical of military spouses. Someone who answered a need in the Fort Belvoir community was Christine Vance of Fort Belvoir, and a National Guard Spouse of 11+ years. In nominating Christine, husband Ronald and others noted not only her commitment to her own family, but her work for the military families around her. She developed a food pantry for military families in the Fort Belvoir area, named “Heidi’s Pantry” after a dear friend who passed away. Working with the Lorton Community Action Center and other organizations for donations, she has created a warm, safe place where young families can seek help. She held a coat drive in November 2012 and holiday food basket outreach that reached 250 service members and families.
Tania Hendrickson of Fort Meade has become her community’s Exceptional Family Member Program touch stone. As the mother of three children, two with autism spectrum disorders, she has devoted her efforts to learning more about these conditions and how to help her children and others. As friend Rebecca Pulta wrote in her nomination: “She is the first to offer a smile, say hello and ask how she can help any other similarly situated family. She is truly a beacon of light to her family and friends and she has no idea how many people admire the progress her sons have made as a result of her persistent determination to recover them from autism.”
Navy spouse Angela Downs is representing Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. As the office manager of the all-volunteer Navy Services Family Line, she typically works more than 30 hours a week naval service families from around the area. She also volunteers with COMPASS, a spouse mentoring program. As friend Browyn Fillion wrote, “(she created) the most fun module on "Local Insights"- how to make the most of your tour in Washington DC- its a fun, game show style module that introduces participants to the wide variety of activities and tours that abound in the nation's capitol- she's done an outstanding job. Additionally, she became the Vice President of the Navy Wives Club of America chapter here in DC and did phenomenal community service projects with that group.”
Joint Base Andrews’ representative is Navy spouse Jennifer Pilcher. Jennifer is a co-founder of the web-site MilitaryOneClick.com – an information resource site for military families to find answers on employment, saving money, community news and much more.
Trudy Rudolph is an Army spouse representing Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. According to supervisor Shay Baranowski of the IHG Army Fort Belvoir Hotel, Trudy has gone above and beyond to assist guests at the hotel, especially newly arriving military families. “Trudy took the job here because her husband often has to travel and she wants someone to take good care of her husband when he is away. Trudy feels that if she is here helping TDY and PCS guests beyond her regular duties then someone somewhere is doing the same for her husband,” he wrote.
Alicia Hines Ward is the Washington DC National Guard spouse nominee. This mother of three boys is a Key Spouse volunteer for DC Air National Guard 113th Logistics Readiness Squadron. She not only helps organize events and morale-boosting programs for unit families, she also is a co-founder of the Joint Base Andrews Business and Community Support Group. Nominated by husband Edwinston Ward, he also wrote, “As her husband I am most proud of the work that she does with the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) representatives at Joint Base Andrews to support members and dependents in receiving Social Security Disability Benefits and within the Wounded Warrior Program. She is the EFMP Family Panel Representative for the Air National Guard and uses her advocacy skills to educate members through social media, forums, and briefings.”
Reading through the stories of all the nominees, it is easy to see that they are all amazing, dedicated and deserving award winners. But like any competition, there can be only one at the top. So whether you want to support your installation winner, or vote by service affiliation, remember to vote on Monday, Feb. 5 and help recognize all the outstanding military spouses. Log on to www.msoy.militaryspouse.com to cast your vote.
(Photos from msoy.mililtaryspouse.com)