Oh what a roller-coaster 2013 was! From news that rocked the military spouse and family world -- like the government shutdown and pay and benefits threats and reductions -- to thoughtful and sometimes controversial posts from our readers (you!) and contributors, 2013 rocked our socks.
So what was the best and hottest of 2013? Here it goes ...
Government Shutdown and Budget CutsYou read about the government shutdown, budget cuts and the commissary more than anything else.
We know what's important to you -- the news that impacts YOUR military life. You visited this post about free Sam's Club Memberships over the government shutdown and this one about the plan still in the works to, if needed, shut down the commissary system making it clear that this subject matters to you more than anything else.
The Assault on Military BenefitsWhen military, government leaders, or members of the media start talking about slashing your military benefits you make your voice heard.
When I wrote my "Open Letter to Military Benefits Haters," and this post about one columnist's idea for finding money savings through reserving funeral honors for only those killed in combat you made it clear that saving money on the backs of veterans is not OK. Still, Congress nonetheless recently approved a COLA cut to retirees and the retirement of currently serving forces that will drastically slash the benefit. That wasn't OK with you either.
Events That Rocked Our Military LivesIt wasn't just budget cuts that had us on our toes in 2013.
The conflict in Syria and the Navy Yard Shootings shook us and made us wonder just how much we would be expected to give. Tragedy and deployment don't just happen to other people. When we loose someone through military action or tragedy, it is a loss to our whole community. These people are our friends, and we miss them.
And then there was the women in combat issue. You showed us you have some very strong opinions about this. We do, too.
Our Controversial ContributorsOne of the things we love about you is that you not only have an opinion -- you want to share it.
That's why we open our doors weekly to guest bloggers -- YOU! -- to share what's on your mind. The result? Some real conversation starters. This guest blogger talked about what she thinks we all should take away from our "old school" sisters -- and this one responded with what we shouldn't.
The Move Toward AcceptanceMore than a year after the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, we saw some movement early this year towards acceptance. changed their mind about the subject. Then same-sex spouse Tracey Hepner attended the State of the Union Address as a guest of the First Lady and wrote about it for us.
Then, after waiting what seemed like a ridiculously long time, same-sex partners finally received the benefits they qualified for after the June repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act Sept. 3.
Things That Touched Your HeartThey don't always get the most traffic, but a few posts this year really tugged at the heart strings.
If you didn't read this post on what Kim Kapacziewski learned from loving her wounded warrior, you should. Here I confessed my sneaky sometimes-military bitterness, and you stepped-up to make me feel better about the whole thing. Jacey talked about the positive things she has gained from her husband's latest deployment.
Crafty Inspiration Even a blogger needs a craft break every now and then.
We had a blast putting together some fun care package and military-themed craft and decoration tutorials for you this year. There was this one with complete step-by-step cake in a jar instructions. Our favorite crafty blogger Raleigh did this one on staying merry through a Christmastime PCS, this great post on sending dinner kits to your deployed spouse and this really neat and easy(!) s'mores kit.
Wit and Wisdom For You, BY YouWhen our Military.com Spouse Experience event travels around the country we gather from you your best ideas for tackling military life. We know you've been there and done that.
So it's not surprise that you put together some great Top 10 lists for us this year. That's we ended up with this one on why the Navy is the best service (hey, it was their birthday), this one on what not to say to a pregnant military spouse, and this peachy advice on navigating the military life for MilSpouse newbies.
Why Didn't You Tell Me?Our favorite way of finding new SpouseBuzz contributors and guest bloggers is through our weekly Why Didn't You Tell Me? feature.
Not only do we get to read some or your great reader submissions, but we get to learn through your military life experiences! In this post one blogger confessed her sadness over redeployment after her husband was sent home early after being shot. This Navy wife wrote a letter to her husband at his retirement. And here one spouse wondered why the spouse was support group gave her, a newbie, the cold shoulder.
Want to contribute to our weekly YDU spot? It's really easy! Just email us your YDU thoughts through the form over here.
It's Been a Great Year!Now that 2013 is over we're looking forward to bringing you more great stuff in 2014.
Did you have a favorite post of 2013 that we missed? And what do you want to see MORE of in 2014?