Military Spouse Magazine

AUG 2018

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W H A T W E L O V E Homefront Rising Why military spouses should get political. By Elizabeth Jamison, Navy Spouse "I don't have the time." "I'm not qualified." Now more than ever, our country needs military spouses in leadership roles, from the school board to the U.S. Senate. Far from the "dependa" stereotype, the military spouses I know are service-oriented, with problem-solving skills and solutions in hand, and the ability to work with diverse groups to accomplish goals. We organize phone trees and meals for new parents, advocate for improvements to Tricare, fundraise for the unit readiness groups, lead the charge to reduce military spouse unemployment, and crank out care packages, while balancing our family and work duties. These organiza- tional and leadership skills, whether paid or volunteer, all translate to the ability to effectuate good government. M ili t a r y f a m ili e s a r e o f t e n r e lu c t a n t t o e ng a g e in t h e p o li t ic a l a r e n a . We are already balancing the unique challenges of military life. There are frequent relo- cations, single-parenting during trainings and deployments, and trying to construct a career amid the chaos. The de- mands of this lifestyle quickly fill the 24 hours in the day. Service members are bound by certain restric- tions about what they can say and do in uniform in order to uphold the apolitical norms of our armed forces. Although military spouses are not sub- ject to these rules, confusion and concern over these regulations often serves as a deterrent. In my work with Homefront Rising, I've heard from some of my fellow military spouses that they would never consider running for office, or even volunteering on a campaign, because they don't want to risk hurt- ing the service member's career. Others tell me that they aren't qualified to serve because they have "only" been volunteering and haven't worked in a paid role for many years. I'm here to encourage you to put your con- cerns aside and embrace your leadership potential. WE ARE READY Military spouses are equipped to erase the gender gap in politics. Women represent only one in five members of Congress or state legislative seats, and are vastly un- derrepresented as state-level executives. With women comprising approximately 85 percent of military spouses, it is criti- cal for our community to engage. Not only does our country need qualified candidates willing to serve, our military commu- nity deserves a seat at the table. Past surveys by HillVets found that fewer than 3 percent of over 3,000 employees working in congres- sional offices have served in the military. >> Attendees participating in small group breakout sessions and exercises at Homefront Rising. "I don't want to hurt my service member's career." Seth Lynn of Veteran's Campaign lectures on the qualifications of military spouses. 10 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / AUGUST 2018

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