2013 was a special year for the military community on social media. As a long time Facebook user (I’m 9 years old in Facebook years), 2013 was the first year I saw the military community really effectively leverage social media as a tool for change. The most surprising part about the military community’s social media awakening was its source: military spouses.
These military spouse powerhouses were the brains behind #nix296, #ketchupgate, mobilizing spouses to attend the Military Family Readiness Council meeting, Tri-Care coverage for military children, Sequestration, discrimination against Gay and Lesbian spouses by military spouse clubs, #confirmpattie, and most recently #KeepYourPromise.
To be clear: I’m not surprised that military spouses were capable of pulling off some of the most impressive social media advocacy campaigns I’ve seen; what surprised me, was their message wasn’t being filtered through the many helping organizations and usual suspects in the military family advocacy sphere of influence. The message was crafted by military spouses, and delivered directly by those same military spouses on behalf of the entire military community- servicemembers, veterans, retirees, and their families.
These military spouses organized, strategized, and amplified their messages wholly online, totally geographically separated, and 100% uncompensated, while managing their individual responsibilities as professionals, parents, husbands and wives.
Homefront Rising, the one-day non-partisan political training seminar hosted by Military Spouse J.D. Network and In Gear Career on February 11, 2014, was the logical and necessary next step in the military spouse political advocacy movement.
For those of us who attended Homefront Rising, I think we all agree: this event is just the beginning. I can’t help but call it a “game changer” no matter how cliché it sounds. What I experienced and observed while attending Homefront Rising was military spouses unchained. Attendees included military spouses from every political affiliation, right, left, and smack-dab-in-the-center, aspiring politicians and dedicated advocates hungry to learn how to make America a better place for our military families and all Americans.
I came away from Homefront Rising absolutely convinced of one thing: military spouses have the best potential to bridge the ever-present civilian-military divide. The potential is there not because we are military spouses, but because we represent the 99% of Americans who are not actively serving in the military and the 1% who do actively serve. We are intimately connected to both worlds.
Military spouses get it.
Military spouses understand how important it is for America to have policies that encourage and support individuals who are willing and ready to work.
Military spouses understand how frustrating it is to fight against an insurance company to get the best health care for their families.
Military spouses are vested in finding education policies that work for our children in each and every state and each and every district.
Military spouses are painfully aware of how defense and foreign policy decisions can and will impact the 1% who currently serve, those who will serve, and those who already have served.
Military spouses are vested in leaving our local and state communities better than we found them for the military servicemembers and families who will come after us whether due to a PCS, separation, or retirement.
What Homefront Rising did was lay the foundation for military spouses to start building that bridge.
This is just the beginning for Homefront Rising; mark my words. I plan on being there every step of the way and I want you to join me.
Are you ready to leave your city, state, and country better than you found it? I am.