Ever thought about serving in office? And I don't just mean while binge watching House of Cards (don’t lie, you are imagining Frank turning to talk to you right now).
Military spouses around the country are already leading the way. Sen. Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire is an Air Force spouse. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State is married to a Naval Aviator. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s husband deployed with the National Guard while she was in office. Amanda Banks, a state senator from Indiana, stepped up to the position when her husband was deployed last year to Afghanistan. Yet the overall number of military voices in office is dwindling.
That’s what the Military Spouse JD Network and In Gear Career aim to change with Homefront Rising, a program that encourages and prepares military spouses to serve from the school board to the Senate in local, state, and national roles.
And why shouldn’t military spouses get involved in the political process? You may have heard the naysayers advising against it, saying that your spouse’s military career will be affected if you speak up. There was a time when military spouses were expected to tend to the house and children and put aside any goals and careers of their own.
That was the past. This is now.
Times have changed and there are many resources supporting career-minded military spouses. The homefront is rising! These careers can (and already do) include public service to our country. Military spouses are affected by the decisions of our government in a way few other citizens experience. The federal government decides when and where our spouses deploy, what health care and benefits we receive, where we are going to live, and many other decisions touching our daily lives. Local governments often dictate issues relating to taxes, schooling, licensing, and other critical matters. Through these experiences, we are uniquely positioned to understand the political process and the real impact it has on citizens.
Military spouses are resourceful and resilient; we have lived in different locations across the country and sometimes the globe, made fresh connections with each move, and learned the ins and outs of each new community. Many in the military community are already powerful advocates on issues ranging from military spouse employment to health care for military kids and caregiver and veteran issues. So how do you translate your experiences and desire to serve into actually holding office?
That’s what Homefront Rising is here to teach military spouses. And you've got the chance to attend a training soon in Washington, D.C.
This year’s summit agenda includes instruction from political experts on building your public image, communicating with congressionals, fundraising and much more. Not interested in the ups and downs of the campaign trail? Political insiders will also provide insight on the path to appointed positions and staff jobs. All of the education and advice is focused on teaching military spouses how to become voices of influence in the political realm.
When the government shut down at the end of 2013 and threatened the paychecks of military members who were still required to work and deploy, a group of military spouses gathered to express their frustrations over the apparent lack of understanding in Congress about the effects of the shutdown on military families. Out of this frustration, Homefront Rising was born.
Mary Reding, co-founder of the Military Spouse JD Network, and Lauren Weiner and Donna Huneycutt, founders of Wittenberg Weiner Consulting and founding board members of In Gear Career, decided to create a political boot camp for military spouses. After the inaugural event in D.C. received rave reviews from attendees in February 2014, additional Homefront Rising events were held last year in Tampa, Florida and San Diego, California. The one-day seminar now returning to D.C. will inspire and educate military spouses in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.
“When these military families have a clear place at the table, our country will be stronger for it,” Weiner said.
So hey, you, military spouse: grab a seat at the table. Add your voice to the political conversation in this country. Don’t just call your representative – learn how to BE the representative.
Interested in learning more?
Attend Homefront Rising Military Spouse Political Summit May 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Army Navy Club, 901 17th St. NW, Washington, D.C. The cost is $97. Register here.
Libby Jamison is the Communications Director for the Military Spouse JD Network. She is licensed to practice law in California and runs her own virtual practice. Libby currently resides in Rhode Island with her husband, a Navy helicopter pilot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was sponsored by Homefront Rising.