Sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance.
Most of the time the loudest person in the room gets all the attention, but it's often the quiet ones who are doing the hard work of holding up their communities.
That dynamic is certainly true of the military spouse world. So how do we know who is making a difference? How do we know who is pushing the people around them forward, and then elevate them to do more?
Last year Military.com rolled out the Changemaker Award to recognize a single person who is making sizeable change for the spouse community. But no award program has the kind of impact for both its winners and the community at large as the Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) Military Spouse of the Year.
That's why you need to nominate someone in your community for the award. If we want to help those powerhouse spouses around us, we need to shove them into the limelight.
Here's a little bit about the program in case you're not familiar with it. Organized by base-level winner, then top 18 finalists, then branch level winners and, finally, a single Military Spouse of the Year, the program is designed to sniff out spouses who inspire, empower, engage and advocate for the military community. That spouse who is holding up his family and the on-base food bank? The one who solved that organizational problem for not just your Family Readiness Group but all of them? The one who made sure the local families impacted by housing problems had help? We're talking about those people.
The program finds those spouses by collecting nominations from people like you and me. Then, an internet-based vote lets the community weigh-in on who should win for each base. After that, the top 18 and final winners are identified through a combination of online voting and a panel of judges, which includes past winners, AFI officials and well-known military community members. All of this is done with the goal of identifying a group of people who will use the power of "Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year" to have even more impact than they already do.
I know the Armed Forces Insurance MSOY awards program does that because I have watched the work of past winners. Not every single person who wins goes on to make waves in loud ways. Some of them are even more effective than ever right where they are, working quietly behind the scenes but making a huge difference to those who know them.
Then others, like Brittany Boccher, the 2017 overall winner who is working to help spouses find their identity in this military life, Corie Weathers, the 2016 overall winner who works tirelessly to help military marriages and Stacey Benson, a Coast Guard Spouse of the Year who helped organize food and support drives for Coastie families during a recent government shutdown, are walking powerhouses, doing the hard work that makes big, loud waves to better all of us.
If you're familiar with the program, there are a few changes this year to make the whole thing more streamlined. First, nominations are open now. In the past they've opened in January. That change is to give folks more time to put in nominations before voting gets cracking in February.
Second, eligibility rules have been clarified and now include a note that while veterans who are spouses absolutely qualify, any still serving troops, including those in the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR), do not. Finally, everyone is required to create a log-in for the Armed Forces Insurance website before submitting a nomination or viewing those who have been submitted.
Nominees will be judged on five criteria: involvement in the military community; leadership skills demonstrated; community building; communication; and compelling, inspiring story.
Someone come to mind? Time to go share that amazing military spouse you know with the rest of us.
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