By Rebecca Alwine, PCSgrades Blogger Affiliate
A ten-year anniversary is an achievement. Whether it is ten years on the job or ten years of being married—the milestone insists upon a celebration. And this month, the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® joins the ten year club.
In 2008, Military Spouse Magazine empowered the military community by offering the chance to recognize military spouses for their accomplishments. That first year, there was a single recipient, Chelle Brewer, to hold the title Military Spouse of the Year®.
The following year, Military Spouse magazine recognized a spouse from each of the four service branches (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps), with an overall Military Spouse of the Year.
In 2009, Armed Forces Insurance became the title sponsor of the award, a proud sponsorship that continues to this day. An alumni luncheon was added in 2012 to keep these fantastic spouses connected and to foster relationships within the spouse community. Also that year, the first male spouse won the award, Air Force spouse Jeremy Hilton. Hilton continues to challenge the status quo, particularly as it relates to health care for military children.
The next few years held lots of change for the awards. In 2013, an installation award was added, so that every area with a military installation had the opportunity to recognize a spouse. They also included Coast Guard Districts and states for those in the National Guard. In 2014, Marine Corps Spouse Lakesha Cole was selected as the MSOY, becoming the first to hold the title while stationed overseas in Okinawa, Japan.
The guest speaker at the 2015 luncheon was Taya Kyle, whose Chris Kyle Frog Foundation works closely with 2015 MSOY Corie Weathers. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Weathers has worked with military families struggling with the effects of war for over 15 years. She continues to advocate for the mental health needs of spouses and service members two years later.
In 2016, the branch winners included National Guard SOY Cara Loken, whose husband was activated. Though the Loken family hails from Nebraska, they were experiencing life in Alabama due to her husband’s service. As both a wife to a service member and a mother of a veteran, Loken knows that support is crucial to healthy military families. “My husband may be Air National Guard, but this is not a part-time job,” she said last year when interviewed by Homefront United Network. “Helping Guard families is full-time responsibility and opportunity.”
As military spouses from all around the world gather in Washington, D.C. for the AFI MSOY celebration, they will also have a chance to network. For the fourth year in a row, the 2017 Military Spouse Town Hall will provide spouses an opportunity to connect and learn from experts and other military spouses. The Town Hall kicks off the two-day event that military spouses look forward to, and Friday’s luncheon serves as the awards ceremony for the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®.
These military spouses are a true representation of the hard work and dedication shown by military spouses around the world. They struggle with the same things as everyone else, including stressful moves, but they choose to see the positive and shine right through even the hardest of circumstances.
Author: Rebecca Alwine is a PCSgrades’ Blogger Affiliate and a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. She enjoys coffee, running, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found hiding behind the sewing machine or with her nose in a book. Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com or on Twitter (@rebecca_alwine) and Instagram (@rebecca_alwine).