For Brittany Boccher, the most difficult thing about being a military spouse is living away from her family and the support they provide.

Boccher is a mother of two, including a 3-year-old son with Down syndrome.

She views her role as the caretaker of her military family as a blessing and an opportunity, and for this was named the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year. The honor has provided her with much deserved recognition and a support network that spans around the world.

“I get to meet all these amazing spouses and get to see their excitement for what they’re doing,” said Boccher. “It’s re-charging and re-energizing.”

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year. The award, which is co-sponsored by Military Spouse Magazine and Armed Forces Insurance, honors military spouses from six branches: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the National Guard. Nominations will close Jan. 31. For more information visit: http://msoy.militaryspouse.com/.

Several rounds of judging and voting narrow a group of more than 500 nominees down to roughly 150 base winners, and then six branch winners. The overall winner is then announced at the end of a two-day event held in Washington, D.C., according to Janine Boldrin, managing editor of Military Spouse Magazine.

The first day is a town hall, featuring speakers and thematic presentations. This year’s theme is “Go for it;” encouraging military spouses to take the leap to do great things in their careers and their personal lives.

Boccher was nominated for her work in identifying and improving the availability of special needs resources for families at Little Rock Air Force Base and for running a clothing line that donates half its proceeds to the purchase of special needs swings for playgrounds around the country.

Since receiving the award, she has used her national voice to help enact positive change for military families, especially those with children with special needs. Most recently, she helped push into effect a piece of legislature that makes military retirement pay non-taxable in the state of Arkansas.

“It opens the doors to be heard. It’s given me a voice that’s powerful, that before might not have been so loud,” said Boccher, whose husband is an OSI Air Force Special Agent. “I’m so thankful for the recognition.”

- Brittany Boccher, 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® (Air Force), with Nancy Wilson, Spouse of Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force and Tonya Wright, Spouse of CMSAF Kaleth Wright, Chief Master Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force. (Photo by Steven Barrett)
- Brittany Boccher, 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® (Air Force), with Nancy Wilson, Spouse of Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force and Tonya Wright, Spouse of CMSAF Kaleth Wright, Chief Master Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force. (Photo by Steven Barrett)

The dinner draws in many senior level military members, Joint Chiefs of Staff members, and corporate sponsors, according to Michelle Shortencarrier, the Director of Events, Marketing, and Communications at USO-Metro.

“It’s really exciting to be working with the USO because we’ll have such a big audience,” said Boldrin. “This gives more opportunities for people to be introduced to the program and it gives the winners more opportunities to get their message across.”

Partnering with Military Spouse Magazine offers the family-oriented organization the perfect opportunity to highlight military spouses, said Shortencarrier.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Shortencarrier. “To be able to partner with them… and honor military spouses in their role in defending our country and being the force being the forces.”

With MSOY in its 11th year, Boldrin hopes to receive an increased number of nominations from around the country and around the world.

“It’s such a diverse community,” said Boldrin. “The more nominations we get, the more we can really highlight that diversity and the great things that [military spouses] are doing.”