Winter is finally here, and with it come lots of opportunities from the Military Spouse JD Network.

MSJDN is working to improve and update our governance documents – including our by-laws, policies and procedures, and committee policies its website to make it more informative and user-friendly. Every year, our Board and Committee leadership participates in a strategic planning session where we review these documents, as well as our strategic plan and organizational goals for the year. From our meeting this year in July 2014, our Board has worked diligently to update these documents based on that meeting and our continued conversations in order to help provide the support and structure within which our organize can thrive. I encourage you to take a look at these documents on the membership only portion of our website, and also review our Board meeting minutes to get a sense of the conversation that took place to get these policies to the place they are at now.

Your opinions and feedback are incredibly important to us as we continue to build and strengthen this organization. As MSJDN continues to grow and develop as an organization, we are frequently asked to provide quantitative data about our members which we don’t have. We are often able to extrapolate data about military families from the Department of Defense and other sources, but for many of our purposes we feel that it’s simply not good enough. Last year, we asked you to complete a membership survey to help us collect information about who we are as a group. This year’s survey will focus not only on this quantitative data, but it will also ask for feedback about how we are doing and what we can do better. Your answers will help us to develop the programs you need, provide documentation requested by funding sources, and support our efforts to make the military life and career a compatible combination. Please keep an eye out for the release of our 2014 Membership Survey in December.

This time of year is always so special – and while you are focusing on family, friends, and other matters close to your heart during the holidays, don’t forget to start your shopping at – and if you need a suggestion for a charity to select – Military Spouse JD Foundation is a good one to choose. Through the work of our Foundation’s pro-bono program, Justice for Military Families, launched in May 2014 and funded by a grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, we connect military families with legal needs to pro bono legal help from MSJDN’s network of military spouse attorneys. It is a pro bono program for military families by military families. While many pro bono programs exist at the national, state and local level to assist service members, there are few programs that serve the legal needs of their families, even though both face unique legal issues due to their service. With record unemployment and underemployment, only 34 percent of MSJDN members are working full time in a job requiring a law license. Justice for Military Families will provide these attorneys a way to keep current on the law in service to their community. The first partner in this effort is Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). In the eight months in serving TAPS, JMF has connected eighteen surviving families cases with free legal assistance.

In addition to supporting JMF, we now have opportunities for businesses to become Founding Sponsors of our organization. By becoming a “Founding Sponsor” of MSJDN, you will enable military spouse licensing initiatives, events and programs for our members (CLEs, webinars, etc.), and continued pro bono legal support for the military community. Partnering with MSJDN will increase your organization’s marketing and outreach efforts with our membership and supporters. The military spouses we represent are from all ranks and branches. They are located at bases and posts across the country and around the globe. Our members work in a variety of environments ranging from Big Law to federal and state employment, as well as small firms and solo practitioners. Your organization will reach the military community and the legal field by participating in the Founding Sponsor Program. Please help MSJDN support career-minded military spouses by becoming a Founding Sponsor. If you would like more information, please contact MSJDN Board member and Finance Chair, Ashley Donahue at

We have a lot going on this year – and you can learn more about all of the new membership initiatives and the leadership of our Committee Chairs and members to start a webinar program, a moot-court competition, develop an awards nomination process, continue to highlight MSJDN leaders and military spouse attorney mentors in the community, update our website. Many thanks to our amazing editor, Board Director Reda Hicks, for continually pulling together our newsletters to share these updates with our membership!

There are lots of ways to become involved with MSJDN, whether through Committees, national or local events, or rule change efforts. We encourage everyone to find a way to contribute. Thank you for your continued support and efforts to improve the lives of military families!

Happy Holidays,

Rachel Winkler

President, Military Spouse JD Network