The award, first presented in 2019, is designed to recognize a military spouse or community supporter for persistent, tireless work for the spouse community on a single issue, and elevate him or her for everyone to see.
For 2020, a team of experts at Military.com singled out and told the stories of three incredible finalists: Lisa Collela, who advocates for the support and care of domestic violence victims in military and veteran homes; Abby Malchow, a Navy veteran whose work on military spouse unemployment and small business at Amazon.com has led to spouse education and recruiting; and Harless.
Harless never expected to be a PCS policy expert or leader, she said. An Army veteran turned military spouse blogger, she started a Change.org petition in 2018 after watching military friends suffer through a disastrous moving season. Her petition went viral, gaining more than 100,000 signatures and forcing the attention of top military move officials.
But Harless didn't stop there. She worked hard to become one of the leading experts in the military move space, learning the regulations front-to-back and getting involved at every level. Her persistence paid off as U.S. Transportation Command, which oversees military moves, formed an advisory committee and asked her to be on it; put in place a series of major regulation changes to make moves easier on families; and made the unprecedented decision to outsource management of the household goods transportation system to a contractor rather than assign moves themselves.
Harless said she is honored to be selected, especially given the number of influential military spouses and supporters working in the space.
"Just knowing that there are so many spouses out there doing such good, amazing things and making such good, positive changes in our community, and from amongst them to be chosen as a finalist and then overall, it's very humbling," she said.
Harless represents exactly the work and leadership the Military.com Spouse Changemaker of the Year award seeks to recognize.