Last Wednesday, I received an email that made me break out in hives and set my heart to racing. It was an email notifying me that someone had nominated me for the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Award. I now needed to decide whether, or not, to accept the nomination. I was verklempt.
My first course of action was to find out who nominated me. Was is the Soldier? Because, in reality, he’s totally biased. It wasn’t him, though. Turns out, it was a very dear friend whom I’ve known for more than ten years. What made the nomination even more humbling was the level of respect I have for this spouse, in particular. Not only is she the epitome of a military wife who is doing the damn thang, she’s got her some really good grammar and spelling- unlike myself, obviously!
Jennifer Herbek, nee Caltabiano, is the wife of Armor Officer, Mike. More importantly, Jen’s an advocate for military families, a fellow homeschool mom, and an all around bad-ass. This is the two of us after four years of being apart. We were standing next to the wedding and groom’s cakes that I baked for her brother’s wedding. She has four kids, ladies and gentlemen. Four. Yes, she makes me sick too. Jealousy aside, this is my ride-or-die.
Jen is the go-to lady for all the military spouses who have the privilege of knowing her. Anytime we have a question pertaining to policies or laws as they pertain to the military, Jen, who is a volunteer with the National Military Family Association, is the woman we message. More than that, Jennifer is a dear friend to my family. In fact, our families have meshed so strongly together that I, and the rest of my family, have become adopted Caltabianos, as well. Anywho, Jen wrote up an amazing nomination; so amazing, in fact, that if I wasn’t the nominee, I would’ve nominated myself because of her nomination!
All that last sentence proves is that I should be grateful that she wrote it and I didn’t.
So, Jen writes up a dope nomination and I decide that, “Yes, I want to do this.” So, I clicked “Accept” and now the fun part begins.
- The Military Spouse of the Year Awards honors spouses across the military. Each branch: Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and our Reserve and National Guard Components, are all represented by the awardee who embodies the spirit of the military spouse. With so many military spouses not only maintaining homes across the globe while their service member is serving our country, but also pursuing their own careers and volunteering; the awards recognize their dedication and hard-work. I’m honored to be considered among the tribe of spouses who keeps our services fit to fight.
- Why does all of this matter to you? Well, for me, it’s simple: we support the men and women who keep you (and us) safe. I have said time and again, “The military spouse is the military’s greatest retention tool.” You want your military to remain an all-volunteer force? Make the spouse feel valued, appreciated and respected. They will encourage their service member to reenlist. Also, without the spouses, there is no military volunteer corps. According to a recent survey, 68% of military spouses have volunteered within the last year. That figure is staggering compared to the national average of their civilian counterparts- 27%. For many of us the lack of employment leads us to seek an outlet, no matter what the ROI is. That’s why recognitions like the Military Spouse of the Year Award mean so much to spouses like me.
- What can you do? Vote. Here’s a link to my candidate page. Read about my work as a military spouse. If you think I’m worth your vote, click “vote now”. Then, pass the link along to your friends, family, co-workers, neighbor’s baby’s mother’s cousin’s auntie, twice removed…whomever! Ask them to vote for me too, we are homies, after all! You can vote once a day, every day, from now until the 9th of February.
- Then what? Check back here to get updates on the process. If I’m blessed enough to win the nomination for my base (Fort Hood, Texas), I’ll then move forward to compete for the second round. In the second round, three spouses from each of the six branches will be selected based on the popular vote and the MSOY panel. From there, round three will determine the six national level candidates based on your popular vote, the MSOY panel, and judge’s votes. The final round will determine the overall Military Spouse of the Year based on the popular vote, the MSOY panel and the judge’s vote.
Pretty easy and straight forward, right? I think so too…yet my stomach is still in knots. Why? Because this is my “final rodeo” so to speak. My Soldier’s career is winding down and the thought that my life as a military spouse is ending is a tough pill to swallow. I’d love to still have an active role in the community that has shaped me into the woman I am today. This would be the perfect way to do that. So, please take a minute to read my profile and vote for me if you feel inclined to.
No recipe for today, just a request to vote. I hope you will, and share as well!
PS: Here’s a glimpse into one aspect of military life. Read it now and pin it to share with your friends:
Just in case you must have a recipe…here are two of my favorites: