Sunday, January 19, 2014

Reda Hicks--2014 Military Spouse of the Year

**UPDATE: On February 23, 2014, the announcement was made that I am the Ft. Riley Military Spouse of the Year. 

***On January 30, 2014, the Top 18 candidates were announced, and I was among them. Now, I have the honor of competing for Army Spouse of the Year. Please vote for me on Tuesday, February 4, by clicking here.


Military Spouse of the Year--that's what I'm hoping, anyway.

I was incredibly honored to learn last week that five friends nominated me for the honor.  Floored, really, and you will be too when you read what they wrote.  In one sense, it was very humbling. I am familiar with a number of past MSOY winners, and they are some amazing men and women!  Definitely big shoes to fill.

But on the other hand, the nominations were also empowering. I love love being an advocate for military families.  The idea of getting to bring that message to a larger audience, to really bring attention to issues facing military families, makes my heart fly.

What is it? Here’s what the website says about MSOY:

Military Spouse magazine founded the Military Spouse of the Year® (MSOY) award in 2008 to honor military spouses of all ranks and from all branches of service. More than a million military spouses support and maintain the home front while our service members defend this great nation. The Military Spouse of the Year® award recognizes military spouses’ important contributions and unwavering commitment to the military community and our country. 

For the program, it’s a way to identify and encourage leaders within the military spouse community.  MSOY winners working together are a powerful force for military families.

For the winners, it is an opportunity to reach a broad audience on particular issues that affect military families. It’s a way to educate, raise awareness, and make positive change. In a word, it’s a platform.

What can my friends do to help?

Voting for MSOY happens in three rounds: (1) base-level voting; (2) branch-level voting; and (3) final voting.  A participant has to win at each level to advance, so my first task is becoming the Ft. Riley Military Spouse of the Year.

The first round base-level vote is TUESDAY! Yes, January 21, 2014. 

Here’s the link to cast your vote:

Here's the link to read my profile:

The link asks for your email address, but that is only so they can track whether you have voted before.

Anyone can vote, so getting the word out is critically important. 

Tell your friends, tell your networks, tell your families, and ask them to VOTE pass it on!  Here are a few easy ways to do that:
  • Facebook—I started a Facebook event that will be updated throughout the voting process with instructions, posts for sharing, and additional information.  You can find the link here.
  • Twitter—My Twitter-savvy friends can follow the process by using the hashtags #TeamReda and #MSOY. Here’s the bitly for the voting link: if you want to tweet your friends.
  • Blog—Subscribe to my blog. I’ll be posting updates during the course of this process, so you know exactly what to do when.
Why do I want to do this?

I’m an advocate to the core.  I love being a voice for the military families community. Whether it’s grassroots phone/email/Twitter campaigns, editorial work, organized advocacy efforts, or storming Capitol Hill I carry the message. 

The political process can be daunting, and we need more military spouses who understand and engage with it.  That’s why I’m proud to be part of a team working to train military spouses to join the conversation, not just calling on their leaders for change, but becoming the leaders who will make change.  

This is important to me not just because it would mean more leaders in tune with the needs of the military community, but also because it would mean leaders who truly understand what serving and sacrificing for this great nation looks like.  It’s part of their lives.

I believe in the power of empowering military spouses.  I don’t just mean spouses that are ready advocates and political leaders, but also spouses empowered in their own homes and communities by their ability to build a career if that is their calling.

Gone blonde for Jake's 40th birthday,
two weeks before he left for Afghanistan
My family is a remote family, and that’s mostly because military service is often incompatible with spouse careers.  Jake has served in four different states in seven years, and I can’t even get licensed fast enough to follow, let alone get a job.  These kinds of hurdles are why a large and growing number of military families live remotely.

I’m proud to work with Military Spouse JD Network on removing those licensing barriers.  I hope that one day no military family will have to live the way mine does to be a two-career household and also serve.

At one of our events in May, General William Suter (Ret.) said “When you help a military spouse you help a military family, and don’t you forget it!” I believe that to my very core. 

I believe the gap can be bridged.  Our family has one foot in the Army and one foot in the civilian world every single day.  Being remote is hard, but one blessing it has provided is the opportunity to address a civilian community (Houston) with the message of what military life is really like.

My experience has been, the more they know, the more people are willing to help.  The problem is that the military are small in numbers (less than 1%) in terms of overall population in this country, and not near major metropolitan areas.  That means civilians don’t necessarily come into contact with us.  But when they are aware, they care.  So we know what our homework is!  I address my civilian community with our message every chance I get. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great to inspire other military spouses to be a role model and to be strong. This is also another way to let them see that they are not alone and a lot of spouses are there to help.