Duty Station: Little-Rock-AFB
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 4
About the nominee: I'm a seasoned Air Force spouse of eleven years, a mother, business owner, devoted volunteer, mentor and a loyal friend. I'm a mother of an adorable four-year-old daughter and an amazing two-year-old son who is rockin' an extra chromosome known to most as Down syndrome. I’m the president of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club and an advisory board member for the LRAFB Thrift Store. My fellow board members are amazing and together have raised over $20,000 in funds and in-kind donations to support our welfare and scholarship programs. We have increased club participation by 800% in 2016 and have made monumental impacts in our community by stocking the on base food pantry to maximum capacity, providing backpacks for more than 300 military children, collecting and packaging more than 75 care packages for deployed troops and supporting our on base school by purchasing physical education equipment and assisting in the build of pollinator gardens. In addition, I was asked to participate in the signing of House Bill 1162, also known as the Retired Military Tax Cut in the state of Arkansas. The passage of this bill creates a tax relief for military retirees beginning January 2018. In 2016 I was a public speaker during women’s history month and national disability month. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by local news stations to discuss military life during the holidays and what its like to be a deployed family during the holidays. In addition, I had the opportunity to promote the exceptional family program during an interview for World Down Syndrome Day. In 2016, I followed my dream and became the founder and director of the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition “Tank Filled Life” project, educating and advocating for individuals with Down syndrome. The Coalition is a partnership of active Down syndrome organizations across the state of Arkansas, advocating on the behalf of individuals with Down syndrome and their families. I find advocacy and awareness for individuals with Down syndrome as a top priority, which led me to photographing and designing a 2017 Down syndrome calendar to raise funds for a life improvement scholarship program. The calendar featured 10 individuals with Down syndrome and raised over $1,000 for scholarships. I also coordinated Cancer Care bags for children at the local children’s hospital in Arkansas. As a parent of a child with special needs we consider our local hospital our second home and its an honor to give back to our second home and the patients that so highly rely on its care! Most importantly I used my platform as the 2016 MSOY for Little Rock Air Force base to change the landscape of a playground on base. While standing on the playground one day I realized my son, with a disability, had no opportunity for play at the base playground. I identified a gap of ADA accessible play options for children with special needs and approached the appropriate people to achieve a playground with accessible therapeutic swings designed to support children with physical disabilities. In addition, I encouraged and achieved the purchase of Caroline Carts for people with special needs at our DECA commissary. This was a truly rewarding experience. I'm also an advocate and parent liaison for the Air Force Exceptional Family Member Program. I work closely with the Airman and Family Readiness Center in coordinating monthly EFMP support meetings that provide resources for our military families. In addition, I’m constantly educating myself about cutting edge research and treatments for individuals with Down syndrome and I administer neurodevelopmental therapies to my son daily in hopes of limiting the challenges of physical and cognitive disability that he may experience in his life. I wear many hats in my life, which I like to call “Mom”! I'm the CEO of my household, housekeeper, chef, event planner, teacher, accountant and chauffeur. Just twelve years ago I was graduating college with a BS in Community Health Education and Kinesiology. Shortly thereafter I pursued and achieved a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, which led me to not only establish two personal businesses but to also mentor and encourage fellow military spouses on becoming small business owners. I’m the owner of Brittany Boccher Photography and the Co-Owner of Mason Chix apparel in which both companies directly support Down syndrome treatment, research and neurodevelopmental therapies as well as other military entrepreneurs. As co-owner of Mason Chix I have created the opportunity to partner with a disabled veteran and three military spouses to feature their products in our brick and mortar shop. In addition, I utilized the company and its customers to start a shirt fundraiser for a military spouse and mother of four who is battling cancer. Proceeds from the shirt fundraiser are directly supporting the food, travel and lodging expenses the family is experiencing during treatment. I’ve also designed a shirt for a mission group traveling to Haiti and donated all proceeds to their cause. In addition, I’ve designed a shirt and fundraised for a family adopting a child from China. It warms my heart to share my knowledge, education and experience with fellow spouses and that knowledge has helped provide guidance to more than ten military spouses in successfully starting their own businesses. I’m extremely passionate about encouraging military spouses to embrace military life, the military community and the opportunities afforded to them by the military. I mentor fellow spouses and share my experiences with them. I want them to know they are not alone and that somebody somewhere has been in their shoes. We’ve all experienced Murphy’s Law as soon as our spouse leaves for a deployment and I find sharing these experiences provide others the encouragement they need to persevere and move forward. At this point in life I consider myself an “expert” at packing and moving cross-country, at making new friends and building friendships that will last a lifetime. I'm resilient, adaptable, dedicated, independent, supportive and resourceful. The last eleven years have been exhilarating; we've endured three deployments and four new assignments! Today, we are humbled and blessed to call Little Rock Air Force Base our home and we look forward to where God chooses to place us next because we know, "Home is where the Air Force sends us."
Hobbies: I'm an extremely passionate person and my passion is to help others. Helping others is not just part of me but it is me! I find joy in volunteering and mentoring and I absolutely love to learn and would be a professional student my entire life if that was a possibility. I enjoy doing research and developing new skills. Some of these skills have proven useful in my career and some are just for me to enjoy. I'm a sucker for arts and crafts projects and especially a pinterest DIY project. Photography is my outlet and I enjoy capturing moments of my sweet family.
Interesting Facts: I'm a planner, meaning I love my "planner" and I can't live without my planner and all things must be in my planner. Yes, I still use a paper planner and write all things possible in this planner. However, I've learned pretty colorful pens are not logical and that pencil is much preferred because nothing ever seems to go exactly as planned!
What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? There are so many things I have learned as a military spouse, but most important is that one person can make a difference. In 2016, I learned that one person can make a profound change that will make not only an immediate impact on life but for years to come. I've also learned I'm much stronger that I ever thought and that I'm capable of doing so much more than I ever expected. I've learned to be flexible and to adapt to my situation and surroundings.
In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? I believe the impact of deployments on our children and our marriages is one of the most important issues facing military families. Children are resilient but they are also fragile and repeated and prolong deployments definitely takes its toll on military children and the quality of military marriages.
What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? Military life is unpredictable, sometimes difficult but ultimately rewarding. Moving from one location to another can be challenging, however, I appreciate the change of scenery and I value the opportunity to meet new people who become my military family.
What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? I would like to use the MSOY title to further advocate for exceptional family member program families who have a family member with special needs. I'd also like to continue to empower military spouses to embrace the military life, their military community inside and outside of the base gates and to embrace the beautiful opportunities that this life provides!
Reasons for nominating:
This lady is extraordinary. She runs a perfect household with a husband that works 60 hour weeks, a very energetic four year old and a beautiful son with special needs. I am blessed that I get to call her neighbor but I am doubley blessed to call her my best friend. She single handedly started a all inclusive spouses club from scratch and it's thriving! She was a board member for the state wide Downs Syndrome foundation in Arkansas. She runs a thriving home based business and all of her profits go to helping her little man get better therapy than what is offered by her insurance. She never sleeps! I mean, never, ever sleeps but she still gets up everyday and manages to brush her teeth and hair and actually get clothes on and food on the table. Honestly, I've never met anyone like her and we were 30 year veterans of the AF. This past year she has put together a photo session for children with Down, she's create, printed and sold calendars to help with the local society. She has her merchaidenin multiple retail outlets (and some mil-spouse stuff too). I'm so proud of the woman, mom, friend, wife, sister, daughter, and entrepreneur that she is all day, everyday. She's just like no other in this planet and that's why she should be the next Air Force Spouse of the year, hands down: -- Sonja, Friend
She is a great mom and Friend. Very down to earth and would do anything for you. -- Michelle Zarsky , Friend
Classy and respectable. Hard working wife, super mom and incredible friend. -- Kelley, Friend