The Military.com Spouse Changemaker of the Year award has one goal: find men and women who are making sizeable, measurable, focused change for military spouses – and honor them.
In 2019 that meant singling out three of the best advocates we could find and noting their work, ultimately recognizing Libby Jamison as the Military.com Spouse Changemaker of the Year during an Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year reception in May.
This year things look a little different for in-person events. But things haven’t shifted at all for the changemakers. They are still out there doing the hard work. They still need to be recognized.
This year, we have selected three 2020 changemakers who deserve to be recognized for their tireless work in the military spouse space. Over the next several weeks, we’ll share detailed profiles on each spouse. Then, we’ll announce our winner the week of May 3. Unlike other awards, there is no public vote. Instead, the winner is selected by our internal Military.com panel.
The 2020 Military.com Spouse Changemakers of the Year finalists are: Lisa Colella, Megan Harless and Abby Malchow. Here’s a little bit about each finalist.
Domestic violence against military caregivers and veteran spouses is a real problem – but not a popular topic for most advocates and policy makers. It’s hard to talk about, emotional to address and complicated to handle.
But those barriers didn’t to stop Lisa Colella from taking it on. She tirelessly advocates for caregivers and spouses through her nonprofit Healing Household 6. Through that organization, her team of volunteers connects those in need with whatever support is available, including local resources that are not specifically aimed at veteran families. But she doesn’t stop there. It was her behind-the-scenes work with the Department of Veteran Affairs that pushed intimate partner violence and abuse support into a recent caregiver program rule proposal, the first time any such action has been taken.
Anyone who endured a military move in 2018 remembers how the entire system seemed to fall apart without warning. Items ended up broken or missing in what felt like record numbers. The process seemed like a total disaster.
In the midst of that stood fed-up Army spouse Megan Harless. Disgusted by what she saw, she hit “publish” on a Change.org petition demanding intervention from the Pentagon, and shared it on her Military Spouse Chronicles Facebook page. The petition went viral, and she was thrown into the world of military moves.
Instead of letting the petition run its course and calling it a day, Megan pushed to become a major player in the PCS reform space. Her work and consistent advocacy is directly connected to the Pentagon’s decision to outsource the management of the military moving system to a contractor, an unprecedented change to the system’s structure. She also has become a well-versed expert on the Joint Travel Regulation, a 500-page military document that governs all aspects of military moves and travel.
Navy veteran Abby Malchow isn’t a military spouse, and until recently, she says, she didn’t even know many military spouses. But that didn’t stop her from taking on the challenges they face with employment and entrepreneurship as her very own in her role at Amazon.com.
A senior program manager in the company’s military affairs section, Abby is the drive behind the Military Entrepreneurship Program, which is designed to connect military spouses and veterans with the selling power of Amazon’s storefronts, and then to help train them to be successful on the platform. And unlike many programs which are aimed first at veterans and then later include spouses, Abby started her program to solve spouse employment problems first and foremost. Her work behind the scenes has made a sizeable difference in the way military spouse and veteran-owned small businesses are able to operate through Amazon.