Sacrifice is a word that we use a lot in the military community. Sometimes, I worry that when we use a word so much, it loses its meaning or we forget the power they have. “Thank you for your service, your sacrifice.”

Earlier this year, my friend Patty Barron wrote a touching piece after she lost her sister. It was about the strength and fortitude of the military sisterhood and brotherhood, and how she had nearly forgotten the strength and fortitude of her roots with her family in California. Reading her piece was familiar — I could see her sacrifice, I had lived that sacrifice through my father’s illness a thousand miles away, and the word “sacrifice” suddenly meant more to me.

Even when he was sick, my dad loomed large and was a source of guidance. He never lost his sense of humor, even from his hospital bed. He frequently told his nurses how proud he was of me and my sister — we would never want for his admiration. In April of last year, after years of chronic and intense health issues, we lost my dad. He was two weeks shy of his 70th birthday. The loss was incredibly painful, but I never connected his loss to our military life, even though the distance from home made everything more difficult. I never saw this as a sacrifice.

Patty’s column reminded me, however, that military spouses do sacrifice. Our sacrifices will never reach the levels of those who have served on the front lines, or of those we love and miss and pray for when they are far away. Our sacrifices cannot be tracked to a single, catastrophic event. We don’t lose limbs from IED. We don’t suffer from TBI from an explosion from our convoy.

But our sacrifices are sacrifices. It’s death by a thousand cuts, sacrifices that build and affect who you are and the plans you made for yourself. Sometimes they are big — the loss of a job with a PCS. Sometimes, they are invisible, like lost time with a loved one. Even the smallest sacrifices are real. 

I am here to tell you, military spouses, that your sacrifice matters.  I see your sacrifice. We, the leadership of MSJDN, see your sacrifice and we tell people about your sacrifice every day. We vow to not let anyone forget why your sacrifice matters.

As I submit my last President’s Letter, pass the gavel to President Libby Jamison, and head off into the Past President Sunset, there are so many things of the past year the I want to highlight. Military spouses in Alaska, Michigan, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Kansas can now practice law while following their servicemember, bringing our total of states recognizing the service of military spouse attorneys to twenty-four. MSJDN was honored by the National Conference of Bar Foundations, National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, and the Newman’s Own Foundation for our state licensing and pro bono work. Our leadership team planned and executed in-person events connecting military spouse attorneys to professional resources and development through our annual events and webinar series.

Rather than talk about the past year, I would like to focus on today and our future. MSJDN is stronger today than it has ever been in its history. We are financially sound, we are recognized as a leader and model for military spouse organizations, and we have a strong leadership team dedicated to the success of MSJDN and its members. Our members and leaders devote considerable time to the operation of MSJDN and the support of our members — they sacrifice time with their families to make a better organization in support of military spouse attorneys. I wish I could take credit for this success, but the truth is our success lies with our members and the leaders who every year raise their hand and volunteer to be a part of this organization.

I could not be more proud of the work we have completed over the past year. I could not be more excited about the team starting on our Board this month. Most importantly, I cannot wait to see all they will accomplish.