By Debbie Gregory.
More than one million military spouses support and maintain the home front while members of our armed forces defend this great nation. Since 2008, the Military Spouse of the Year (MSOY) has been awarded to honor military spouses, all ranks, all branches of service, for their unwavering commitment to the military community.
On January 23, 2015, the base winners were announced, and the next round of voting is scheduled for January 30th.
One of the candidates for MSOY was nominated by Navy Captain Brad Cooper, Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Gettysburg (CG-64) and longtime friend and supporter of MilitaryConnection.com. Capt. Cooper nominated his Command Ombudsman, Stefanie Sanders. Mrs. Sanders won the base vote for Naval Station Mayport Florida, which she now represents in the branch voting tier.
As Command Ombudsman, Stefanie is the go-between for the families of the Gettysburg’s crew and the ship’s leadership. When a ship is in port, most Navy families utilize their service member to connect to the resources and support they need. But when the ships are underway, the spouses and families utilize people like Stefanie to obtain the support and resources they need. As the Command Ombudsman for the U.S.S. Gettysburg, Stefanie has her hands full, as the ship has the distinction of having the highest operational tempo and most time away from homeport than any other ship in the U.S. Navy for the last 2+ years.
In his nomination letter, Capt. Cooper called Stefanie an “military spouse ‘superwoman’ and an extraordinary American.” As high a compliment as those praises may sound, they may not do Stefanie justice.
Stefanie, herself, is a Navy Veteran, having served as an enlisted sailor for four years. Because of her service, Stefanie brings a unique and vitally effective point of view to her position as Ombudsman.
Stefanie’s advice to younger military spouses is spot on: “Find a hobby, get a job, do something to keep busy while your spouse is deployed. Because if you just sit at home and miss your sailor, deployments seem like they take forever.”
Besides being the Gettysburg’s Ombudsman since 2012, Stefanie is also the wife of a Senior Chief Petty Officer, and mother to three children and a puppy. She is also the PTA President at Finnegan Elementary School, and has just completed her bachelor’s degree in Human Services and Management from the University of Phoenix. Stefanie’s work with military families has prompted her plan to return to school to secure a Family and Child Services Certificate. She wants to make a career out of supporting and assisting military families, beyond her tenure as Ombudsman.
Stefanie was gracious enough to grant MilitaryConnection.com an interview. She admitted to feeling overwhelmed at her nomination, and winning Mayport’s Spouse of the Year. Through her modesty and her drive to help military families, Stefanie only reaffirms why she should win Military Spouse of the Year.
“I have a great group of spouses on the Gettysburg, without them, I never would have been nominated. I also want to thank my husband, Eric, and our kids for their support and for sharing me and my time with the other families at the command. I would also like to thank Captain Cooper and the leadership and crew of the Gettysburg,” Stefanie told MilitaryConnection.com.
The list of Top 18 MSOY candidates is scheduled to be posted on January 30th. We fully expect to See Stefanie Sanders on that list. When that happens, be sure to VOTE for Stefanie for Military Spouse of the Year during the 24-hour voting period on February 4th. Stefanie is expected to be in contention for one of the six branch winners, and advancing to the National Vote. While every military spouse nominated is worthy of recognition, we have our fingers crossed for Stefanie Sanders.
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