The term “Military Spouse” is often taken at face value to represent a community made up of wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, who are viewed as the rock of a family constantly in motion. The supportive foundation whose service is to the home front.
However, military spouses are too often viewed through a narrow lens that limits the greater impact they are able to achieve.
As a military spouse—by way of my husband’s service in the Air Force — as well as a mother, entrepreneur and advocate, I can attest to the notion that there is not a one-size-fits-all definition that identifies all that it means to be a military spouse.
When I was recognized last year as the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, I found the award itself to be quite humbling, knowing how far reaching my broader community truly is. However, I soon realized the opportunity I now had to use this platform to reach my fellow military spouses and those with a misunderstanding of the full potential of being a military spouse. That award became my megaphone to ensure their voices were truly heard.
The life of a military spouse is a constant and ever-changing journey: whether it’s preparing for the next deployment or repacking for a new base assignment; starting off a new school year in a different city, or transitioning back into civilian life.
My journey as a military spouse has allowed me to learn so much about myself. One thing I have learned is that I am much stronger than I ever thought and that I’m capable of doing so much more than I ever expected. I’ve learned to be flexible and to adapt to my situation and surroundings.
Through speaking engagements and workshops at bases and installations across the country, I have also had the opportunity to hear so many relatable stories from my fellow military spouses about the changes throughout this journey.
I have encountered too many smart, driven, loyal members of this community who feel as though they are alone in their journey and that they do not have a say in the direction of their own journey, instead having to continually bide time to prepare for what’s next.
Whenever I hear this in speaking to groups of military spouses, my message is one of action meant to empower military spouses.
Do not fill your time, fill your cup.
Embrace your military life. Your military community inside and outside of the base gates wherever it may be; step into the spotlight of the military spouse and embrace the beautiful opportunities this unique journey provides.
For the past six months, the United Service Organizations (USO) has been shining a similar spotlight on the military spouse community, in an effort to raise awareness of the challenges and contributions involved. The effort, which began back in May on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, culminated earlier this month with the Salute to Military Spouses in Washington, D.C.
The half-day summit brought together military spouses, military-support organizations, business leaders and key USO supporters for panels that examined key issues that our community encounters every day—including education and employment, community building, peer networking and family-strengthening programs. This event also unveiled new research detailing key insights cultivated from dozens of interviews with military spouses, offering a glimpse into the lives and behaviors of the modern military spouse.
The Salute was the most recent stop in my journey as a military spouse, but it is most certainly not the last. I do not know when it will end, but what I do know is that the path is mine to forge.
Brittany Boccher was the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year and was a featured speaker at the USO’s Salute to Military Spouses on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Learn more at USO.org/MilSpouseSalute.
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