2013 MOAA Spouse Symposium Recap

2013 MOAA Spouse Symposium Recap

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Image: – – Macho Spouse


Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)Lucky number seven. That's what this year's annual MOAA spouse symposium was – though it was a lot more than luck that made the day great. It was the 300 military spouses from across the Pacific Northwest who made the cold trek through Seattle-Tacoma traffic to spend a day at MOAA's 7th Annual Military Spouse Symposium. Here's what we learned, what made us cry, what made us laugh, and who made a special appearance.

Chris PapeWhat we learned
Outside the beltway of Washington DC, the challenge of military life is stark. Several spouses told of being at a cross roads and downright weary with their job options.

“I have three kids and a masters degree, but my husband has deployed three times in the past five years,” shared one Navy spouse. “Paying for childcare isn't cost effective, and even then, when they get sick, I have to stay home. It's tough.”

More than one-third of the spouses in attendance came from troops assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord. Lesson: Keep getting outside our usual networks to hear the broader perspectives of families across the country.

What made us laugh
Two words: Macho Spouse. The man behind the moniker, Chris Pape, woke up the crowd after lunch with a video from his virtual community www.machospouse.com

As funny as he is, Chris also made his point: There are nearly 100,000 male military spouses within the active duty community, and frankly, they're kind of tired of being lumped in with the ladies.

Who made a special appearance
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) gave our keynote address in the morning. But the real surprise was her story. She is a twin, and one of seven children. Her father was a WWII veteran who earned the Purple Heart, but was sidelined by multiple sclerosis later in life. Senator Murray's mother was able to support the family by taking advantage of a government program that helped her become an accountant. She said her story motivates her work for military families.

“I promise all of you that I will continue to fight for federal programs that help military spouses, that create opportunities for you to succeed, and that ensure that we as a nation are there for you and your family, just like it was there for my own family.”

Senator Murray will receive MOAA's highest award, the Marix award this year, for her work supporting military families. Read the entire list of winners here.

What made us cry
It was a sad farewell from our sponsor TriWest Healthcare Alliance that made some of us tear up. Not only has TriWest been a sponsor of many MOAA events, but the Tacoma Spouse Symposium was their last major sponsoring event on the west coast before their contract ends this month. Scott Celley, VP of External Affairs, closed the day with an old proverb about the value of a great wife (sorry Chris! We'll find one for the men, promise.) Scott concluded with this tribute to military spouses: “ Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

This event is also a labor of love for the team at MOAA, because it brings together military spouses from across the country to learn, share and connect – for the staff as well as the guests. The day is built around professional development, but we find the conversations drifting to the toll of war, the budget crisis, and the challenge of being a military spouse, parent and engaged member of the labor force.

We don't take those challenges lightly. And it's why MOAA is committed to continuing to fight for quality of life benefits for all military families, and particularly supporting military spouses in whatever their career ambitions may be.

Read the next in our series recap of the 2013 MOAA Military Spouse Symposium.

See also...

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Adventures in PCSing Across Country: Part 1

Aaahh...PCS season. How many of you can relate to Sean's "adventure?'

Military Spouse
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"My wife never sees the house I have picked out for us until we arrive there with all our belongings. Right now, I am 3 for 3 and am going for 4 for 4."
image for 30 Ways of Thanks Day #19

30 Ways of Thanks Day #19

30Still.jpgA great way to show support for military families is to volunteer your time for organizations that support and serve them. Say thank you by giving back!

November is Military Families Appreciation Month, and the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Branch Spouses of the Year (Branch SOYs) want to help everyone, everywhere participate in thanking and honoring military families.

Americans love our military, but many people don't quite know how best to express their gratitude. As National Guard Spouse of the Year Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee notes, “saying "thanks" to our military families is something that many want to do, but are at a loss as to how to do it –or in the case of Guard and Reserve, how to find us!”

So the Branch SOYs created #30Ways of Thanks to help. Each day in November, the Branch SOYs will release a video with an action item that people around the country can participate in virtually or locally, individually or in groups. Participants can hash tag #30Ways so that their messages, photos, or videos are spread far and wide. Hash tags #GratefulNation and #MilFamsRock can also be added as a short-hand way to say “You are amazing, military families!” Best of all, the entire #30Ways video collection will be stored on the Branch SOYs' YouTube channel so that it can be repeated in Novembers to come, or whenever someone is looking for a way to say “thank you” to military families.



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