Friday, May 17, 2013

Military Spouse of the Year Summit - Day 2

When you married the military, you joined the largest family in the world.


Early Friday morning I said my 'see ya laters' to Patty; I still hate leaving her house because it has always felt like a second home. As I headed into Washington DC I recapped the day before and was so excited to see what the day had in store. The drive in saw more traffic than I have to deal with in California which honestly says A LOT. When I arrived at our beautiful host hotel the Marriott Wardman Park, I realized how regal this property looks. 

As I checked in I was given my official MSOY cards and my certificate…. Yes I get to put one on the wall now! The Military Spouse of the Year Summit was a first of its kind and MilSpouse Magazine went above and beyond in every aspect. Opening remarks were from Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this man is amazing in every sense of the word and I was honored to hear him speak. Out of the corner of my eye, in the hallway, I noticed Secret Service agents. I knew that they couldn’t possibly be there for the Admiral Winnefeld, mainly because my husband has explained more about the Secret Service than I ever hoped to know, so I was very excited to see who was in the hallway. The next introduction was our next speaker, Dr. Jill Biden, the 2nd Lady of the United States! OH MY GOSH! Speechless and in awe as I listened to her talk about being a Blue Star Mom, about understanding deployments and repeating my FAVORITE quote of hers: "Military Spouses volunteer MORE in 1 year than most civilians do in a lifetime!" After her speech Dr. Biden invited us one by one to take a photo and spoke to us for a few moments. I couldn’t believe that I was taking a photo with the Vice President’s WIFE and that she genuinely listened and cared about what we each had to say.

All Military Installation Winners

GO ARMY!  Army Branch and Installation winners

With Dr. Jill Biden 

The rest of the summit brought a wealth of information. The Panelists were exactly what we each needed. The first panel consisted of past MSOY winners providing their thoughts and advice on how to use this opportunity to its fullest. The second panel consisted of military spouses that are involved in different federal hiring programs for military and their spouses. This was a moment for me to ask about their availability to our Gold Star Families who often feel that the programs no longer pertain to them. I found out that they do – each program for Military Spouses ALSO pertains to our Gold Star spouses as they are STILL military spouses. The final panel consisted of 2 lobbyists for military programs and a woman whose organization is helping change laws for portability in law careers. It was interesting to hear the view from this panel on how they are assisting congressional leaders in making a difference for military families.

As I headed home Friday night I was full of excitement and almost felt that I was leaving behind a fairy tale. The information that I was able to come home with was invaluable. I want to thank Victory Media, Military Spouse Magazine and everyone involved in this event for everything. Each of us took information and friendships back to our individual installations; information I know will help. I also want to thank the Got Your Back Network for their support in this endeavor and allowing me the opportunity to represent our organization every day.

For me – For the first time in a long time, as an Army Reserve Wife, I was able to feel included. When you are a Reserve Wife you are surrounded by more civilian than you are military. With each deployment I am explaining every acronym, feeling and thought to individuals who truthfully don’t understand the military life because we are of the 1%. On the MSOY trip I was able to just say something and the other spouses just ‘got it’… such as SFC, SLC, Deployment, R&R and the list goes on. Thank you to each spouse for that. The memories and friendships made will not be forgotten.
As I head into the rest of my year as both Mrs. California International and California’s Military Spouse of the Year I will hold this weekend in my heart and continue to do everything I can for military families in California and our Gold Star Families.

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