Within the ranks everyone knows that a service member does not complete his or her mission alone. Behind every man or woman in uniform is an extensive network of support personnel, a team ensuring that they get the job done.
A large part of that team consists of military spouses. Military spouses are the cornerstone of any military formation. Without them, married service members are unable to perform their mission.
To recognize the efforts of some of America’s great military spouses, USAMM developed this list of five military spouses who have made a difference. And what we mean by that is women and men who have helped the military and veterans.
What was our selection criteria? Well, if the military spouse founded a charity, the charity had to have good ratings and be certified as a safe organization to donate to. The service to the military and veteran community had to be sustained in nature.
Are these truly the top five spouses? They are to us, but given opinions vary and that the U.S. military has a plethora of talented and generous spouses who give their time and energy to make the lives of those wearing the uniform that much better, we’ll just say these folks are USAMM favorites.
We wish we could acknowledge all military spouses out there because we know what it is like to walk in your shoes. Some of us at USAMM have been military spouses and many more of us have had military spouses in our corner with sponge and bucket. We appreciate all that you do for our service men and women.
Here they are in no particular order.
1. Sue Hoppin (far right in above pic)
Hoppin is a nationally recognized expert on military spouse and family issues working to bridge the cultural gap between government, private and public groups and military communities. She is an advocate, published author and consultant with more than 20 years of experience and expertise in military community programs. She has a proven record of developing programs focusing on military issues, serving as spokesperson for various organizations and committees, and reaching out to train top tier military-affiliated groups, veteran/military services organizations, and key leadership within major military commands.
In 2012, Hoppin was appointed by President Obama to the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy; she completed her tenure in 2018 as the board's vice chairman. In 2010, she founded the National Military Spouse Network, a professional development and networking membership organization supporting the professional career and entrepreneurial goals of military spouses.
Hoppin holds a bachelor's degree in international studies from the University of Denver, a master's degree in international relations from the University of Oklahoma and a certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University.
2. Mia Reisweber
Having endured several PCS moves and several deployments as a military spouse, Reisweber certainly has the experience of a seasoned military spouse. In 2014 at her first duty station with her spouse, she connected with U.S. senators in New York and Hawaii to help them understand military spouses who are pursuing careers.
In 2015, she connected with National Military Family Association and became an advocate to help introduce the Military Family Stability Act which was signed into law in 2018. The following year, she was a panelist for Hiring our Heroes at LinkedIn where she discussed military spouse employment.
In 2020, she began exploring spouse employment and childcare accessibility and in 2021, she became a local advocate at the installation level to mitigate childcare challenges. Last year, she joined a think tank to address childcare challenges and to understand child development center staffing issues. This year, she is on the Military Officers Association of America Spouse Advisory Council.
3. Sarah Verardo
Verardo is a National Advocate for wounded Veterans and their caregivers. Her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Verardo was catastrophically wounded in Afghanistan in 2010 – in two separate IED attacks that took his left leg, much of his left arm, and left him with polytraumatic conditions that have required more than one hundred surgeries and years of speech, visual, physical, and occupational therapies.
Like other military spouses at other nonprofits, Verardo started as a volunteer with The Independence Fund, Sarah’s steadfast devotion, experience, and drive led to her eventual selection as the organization’s first chief executive officer. Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund is committed to empowering our nation’s catastrophically wounded, injured, or ill veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty.
The Independence Fund is dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and their families. Through their mobility, caregiver, advocacy, casework, Operation Resiliency, Independence@Home and family programs, The Independence Fund strives to bridge the gap of unmet needs for veterans and their caregivers.
4. Stephanie Brown
Brown is a Navy spouse who grew up as an Air Force Brat; her father was a Vietnam War veteran, serving two tours. She is an entrepreneur at heart and she once owned an interior design company in Washington, D.C. But when she married a naval officer, a Navy SEAL, and became a Navy wife, she put her career on hold.
Years later while searching for a contractor to repair their home, she had problems finding a veteran-owned business. She realized there was a niche market to make veteran business owner’s information accessible to American consumers. She asked two fellow Navy wives to join her, and through the use of a veteran IT developer, the Rosie Network was born.
The Rosie Network’s mission is to build stronger military families by developing entrepreneurial programs and support services that empower military spouses, transitioning service members, and veterans increasing the financial stability and self-sufficiency of American families who serve. The site is named for the iconic “Rosie the Riveter.”
5. Allyson Sue Hash
Hash has endured six deployments as a National Guard spouse with her husband who is a National Guardsman. One the day he enlisted she joined the Family Readiness Group as a volunteer. Within a year, she was the Soldier and Family Readiness Group (SFRG) lead volunteer, a position she held for 15 years.
Hash was also a Family Readiness Support Assistant for four years, and served as the Maryland and District of Columbia Military OneSource State Consultant for three years. She has also volunteered with local school systems, Gunpowder Wounded Warrior Outreach, Operation Homefront and United Through Reading over the past 22 years.
She has more than 8,000 volunteer hours and has helped raise more than $50,000 in support of guardsmen. She reflects the very best qualities of military spouses everywhere.