Elizabeth Benge has been a military wife throughout her 12 year marriage to Seth Benge, who was originally (and always will be) a Marine. He currently serves with the National Guard, and is in his 3rd active duty deployment. With each leave, Seth's devoted wife Elizabeth dedicates herself fully to keeping the home in order as a "single mom". They have 2 children - now ages 11 and 8 - and in the last year, Seth's 19yo daughter Jenna came to live with them. Even though Elizabeth is not technically Jenna's mother, she still loves and cares for her as a member of the family. The 11yo son, Joe, is active in Boy Scouts and a Lego Robotics team, while the 8yo Katina participates in Dance. Elizabeth has chosen to homeschool the kids through an online charter school in order to maintain a flexible lifestyle for all of their activities, but mainly so she can pick up at a moment's notice and serve her husband during active duty training in Fort Indian Town Gap. After a lonely and unsupported experience during Seth's first 2 deployments (one of which Elizabeth was pregnant with Katina!), this amazing Military Spouse took matters into her own hands and joined her local FRG. She quickly advanced in leadership, making many positive changes, and has become a vital asset to the FRG at FITG.
In addition to her incredible devotion to husband, kids, and other military spouses, Elizabeth is an amazing cook, baker, and friend. She demonstrates excellent values and is very involved at her local church. She is a woman of compassion, always ready to listen and lend support to friends. She rarely receives any recognition for her efforts, and I believe she deserves to be "Military Spouse of the Year" for 2013.
Elizabeth and Seth have been married for almost 13 years. Seth was active duty Marine Corps in the 90's, but was not actively serving when they met. After the tragic events of 9/11, Seth was able to return to the military in 2003 and thus began Elizabeth's time as a military spouse. Seth served two tours overseas in the 90's and is currently in his third overseas deployment since 2005. He now is serving with the National Guard and this deployment is the first that Elizabeth has had with family support through an active Family Readiness Group. Elizabeth serves as the FRG Leader helping families cope with the ups and downs of the deployment cycle.
Elizabeth and Seth have three children and she cyber-school's the youngest two. Cyber-schooling has been a great option for them since it has allowed them to be flexible with Seth's military career. She loves baking, reading, singing at her church, and spending time with her family and friends.
spend time with my family, bake, and read.
my husband. I'm so proud of him and his patriotism.
when family members violate OPSEC. Putting our soldiers at risk by giving out too much information is never acceptable.
It was an honor to be nominated. I enjoy being a military spouse and all the work I do with the families. I've been through two deployments with no support, so to have the opportunity to work with the families this time around has been a blessing and joy. I'm glad to help the first time spouses/family members and happy to get my own support from other experienced spouses. Just being able to help other family members through a deployment is reward enough, to be the MSOY would be the icing on the cake.
I would go back to my wedding day. It was a beautiful day, filled with great memories. I just want to live it over again because it was one of the best days of my life. It was sunset on a Spring night. We were surrounded by family and friends to witness our joining. It was perfect.
I would like to see better communication and support for spouses, especially those who do not live on a military installation. Many times spouses can fall through the cracks because they are not close to other military families. They do not learn what options are available to them and do not get the support they need during the deployment cycle. This needs to change. My goal as an FRG Leader is to contact each family member monthly to check in to see how everything is going and just spend some time chatting with them to build a relationship. This communication is on top of the meetings and events held. Personal communication and support is what our spouses need. They need to know that they aren't just losing their spouse during a deployment, but are gaining an entire unit family.