Military spouses from installations all over the world came to our nation’s capital to celebrate the week leading up to Military Spouse Appreciation Day, on May 12. 2017. Military spouses who haven’t seen each other in years, or have only ‘met’ online, have the chance to get some face time with members of their ‘extended village.’ If you’ve never attended this DC take-over before, here’s an inside scoop on some of the back-to-back events designed to celebrate military spouses!
Military Spouse Appreciation at the White House
Vice President and Mrs. Pence hosted 150 military families at the White House on Tuesday, May 9. Pence, whose son is a U.S. Marine, treated these families to ice cream and brownies and a visit with their pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo. Surrounded by children, the Vice President looked into the crowd and said “I want to give a rousing round of applause to the military spouses who are with us here today who keep the home fires burning and who support their spouses as they serve our country.” National Security Advisor McMaster also spoke at the event, as did Ivanka Trump (with her kiddos in tow as well).
Military Spouse Town Hall
Victory Media-owned Military Spouse Magazine held a Military Spouse Town Hall event on Thursday, May 11. Typically, this event is reserved for military spouses who are representing their respective installations through the Military Spouse of the Year (MSOY) program, but this year they opened it up to ALL military spouses who wished to attend!
The Town Hall featured several segments centered on a theme of “Empowering YOU.” Sue Hoppin, Founder and President of the National Military Spouse Network, moderated a panel of the event sponsors to find out how their companies empower military spouses. Representatives from military friendly employers such as Capital One, Starbucks, Allstate, and Amazon, all said they actively recruit and hire military spouses whenever they can. Alexandra Brown from Ernst & Young spoke about being empowered while keeping you safe. When it comes to operational security (OPSEC) she advised to use the Dinner Rule: “If you wouldn’t have someone into your home for dinner, don’t have them on your social media.”
As a previous installation Spouse of the Year and Staff Writer for NMFA, I was invited to moderate the Empower YOU panel. The panelists were all military spouses who work their magic in very different ways. There were two entrepreneurs that offered a non-profit and for-profit perspective, an advocate, a business professional and a stay at home parent. We all have our talents and very different lives, but through each of their stories they all showed that you can be successful while living the military lifestyle. The key is that each of us measures success differently. When we stop comparing ourselves to one another, we start to see that we really are successful, even when it doesn’t look the way we thought it would.
2015 Military Spouse of the Year and author Corie Weathers gave an amazing presentation on taking care of yourself and empowering all generations. It was a great way to learn how to find ways to focus inwardly in order to affect others outwardly. Elizabeth “Betsy” Adams, Director of Ceremonies and Protocol for the Air Force, empowered everyone by giving some insight into how to talk to decision makers in social situations. Sure, we’re in the 21st century now, but etiquette still impacts first impressions.
Military Spouse of the Year Awards Luncheon
The MSOY Awards Luncheon is an exclusive event for the current year’s award winners. Beginning in January of each year, thousands of military spouses are nominated and hundreds are voted in by their peers to represent their installations. After a few more rounds of voting, 6 branch winners are chosen to represent the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. The overall Military Spouse of the Year is then announced at the MSOY Awards Luncheon. Senior level spouses, top ranking military officials, installation military spouses, and supporting organizations all gather for the big reveal. This year, it was held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the winner of the 2017 Military Spouse of the Year award was Air Force Spouse Brittany Boccher. Brittany will now go on to represent and advocate on behalf of military spouses everywhere!
The American Military Partner Association’s (AMPA) 4th annual Gala was a phenomenal way to close out Military Spouse Appreciation. AMPA is the nation’s largest support network for partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans. As an LGBT ally, I am proud to say that I haven’t missed this event yet! During the presentation and awards ceremony, AMPA President Ashley Broadway Mack announced that the non-profit has officially launched a military spouse scholarship! ALL military spouses are eligible to apply for this scholarship to help achieve their dreams of higher education. The evening was full of networking opportunities, fun and amazing food, followed by dancing the night away with friends.
These are just a few examples of the fun and camaraderie to be had in Washington DC during the week leading up to Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Other events, such as the Mother’s Day Luncheon, hosted by Association of the United States Army and USO as well as Homefront Rising are also must-attend events! From professional development, to networking to finding old friends and making new ones, I highly suggest you make it out next year. If you do, be sure to come find me, I’ll be there!