Over the last year I have noticed something new in the military spouse world. Instead of just talking amongst ourselves when lawmakers give us a bum deal, we've started to make some waves.
We've started to get the attention of people who matter. And now you have a chance to have them teach you to get a literal seat at the table, too. Among those lining up to help -- Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war vet and double amputee (D-Ill.) and Hawaii National Guard member and combat vet Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Lawmakers didn't start hearing us because we all moved to D.C. It wasn't because we all suddenly became friends with people who will listen and act. It's because, led by some dedicated spouses with big ideas, we've stopped talking amongst ourselves and started talking into the world. We've started telling the people who matter about the issues that are important to us.
Still, speaking into the world can feel like you're doing nothing but shouting into the great void of twitter and social media, especially if you're like me and stationed somewhere far from anyone who is making a difference with lawmakers. We know that we ARE being heard through pushes like #KeepYourPromise, which looks to repeal the one percent retiree cost of living allowance (COLA) reduction.
But we can do more. We can learn how to advocate effectively for ourselves. We can actually run for office and BE the people who make a difference whether at a local or national level. We can sit at the table.
When the government shutdown last year forced furloughs and service closures across the US and threatened the paychecks of military members who were still required to work despite the shutdown, a trio of military advocates had an idea: since their representatives didn't seem to understand military issues, why not get into office people who do?
Why not help military spouses BE the representatives?
Rather than form a political action committee, Mary Reding, president of the Military Spouse JD Network and Lauren Wittenburg Weiner and Donna Huneycutt, founders of Wittenberg-Weiner consulting and board members with In Gear Career, decided to focus on bi-partisan education.
And so Homefront Rising was born -- a one day education boot camp for action minded military family members.
"We see Homefront Rising as just the beginning of military spouse advocacy initiative. Military families need to be part of the conversation in Washington, D.C., and Homefront Rising will give them the tools to do that effectively," said Weiner. "When military spouses have a clear space at the table, our country will be stronger for it."
Homefront Rising has a very simple aim: give you "education on how to run for political office, how to perfect your pitch, seeking positions of influence, and the lessons that come from 'losing to win.'"
If you want to learn how to make a real difference, this education day is for you.
Confirmed speakers include a balanced mixed of Republicans and Democrats: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), Nikki Haley, republican governor of South Carolina (via video), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and Kathleen Shanahan, former chief of staff to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Want to attend? Here's the nitty-gritty:
Attend Homefront RisingWhat: Homefront Rising: Military Spouse Political Summit
When: Feb. 11, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. with a special pre-event Capitol Hill tour and Hill staffer roundtable the afternoon of Feb. 10. (register for more details).
Why: Because you want to make a difference in American politics.
Cost: $85 (plus processing fee). Ticket includes breakfast and lunch Feb. 11.
How: Register here.