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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
Military News

Military spouses pursuing politics in their soldier’s stead

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“All politics,” as Tip O’Neill once said, “is local.” And nobody knows that better than a group of people for whom the word local is very often a relative term.

“So many political decisions affect our families on a day-to-day basis,” says Adrianna Domingos-Lupher, the wife of an Air Force captain at MacDill Air Force Base, editor-in-chief of NextGen MilSpouse and co-founder of MSB New Media.

Lupher and Amanda Crowe, wife of a Navy chief at MacDill and executive director of In Gear Career for Military Spouses, are helping organize the Homefront Rising workshop in Tampa later this week, a decidedly nonpartisan event aimed at enticing military spouses to enter the world of politics.

Having spent most of my adult life in and around politics, my first question was semi-facetious.

Why?

“When it comes to Homefront Rising and military spouses running for office, it’s really about bridging the divide between the civilian and military communities,” says Crowe. “We truly straddle both worlds.”

The workshop, a one-day “intensive seminar focused on providing military spouses with the information and resources they need to pursue roles in local, state, and national politics and political advocacy,” is the second being put on by the organization. The first was in Washington, D.C.

Because military rules and regulations prohibit service members from openly supporting candidates or political parties, Lupher and Crowe say it is even more important for spouses to seek office.

“Service members still serving have some great restrictions that don’t allow them to speak as freely as the spouse can,” says Crowe. “Our representation is needed. On the national level, the number of veterans in Congress is dropping rapidly. The military voice still needs to be there.”

That issue in particular resonates with me. As a reporter, I cannot by company fiat (and personal belief) openly support a political candidate or party either.

During a recent election, my wife wanted to put a sign on our lawn and I practically had a cow, tromping on her Constitutional rights because the last thing I want is for my bosses and sources to see a picture of me, by dint of being a homeowner, supporting one candidate or another.

So how, I wondered, would that dynamic work the in military, where a service member can find themselves in serious trouble by expressing a right that they might fight for, but cannot enjoy as part of their agreement when they raise their hand?

While the nonserving spouse is not beholden to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the set of rules guiding military life, no action takes place in a vacuum.

“I think as far as the effect on a particular service member, that is a conversation each couple would have to have,” says Crowe. “If a spouse is at the command level, when the military spouse is representing as a command spouse, the restrictions are likely different.”

The issue, says Crowe, “is something we will dive into Thursday. We don’t have all the details answered.”

Lupher and Crowe say that there are a number of issues, like military benefits currently under scrutiny by Congress, that are “near and dear to our hearts.”

While the ongoing problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs and “any issue pertaining to benefits” resonate with their wide circles, Lupher and Crowe say that Homefront Rising, aside from being nonpartisan, has no dedicated agenda and that she hasn’t seen any polling data among those taking part in the effort to know for sure exactly which issues will come up.

As for the political demographics of those interested, Lupher says it is an “even split down the middle” between Republicans and Democrats.

“We are very sensitive to remaining nonpartisan,” she says.

Lupher and Crowe point to two prominent examples of military spouses in office.

Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose husband is in the South Carolina National Guard and did a tour in Afghanistan last year, and Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is not only a military spouse, but a combat veteran of Iraq who lost both her legs. Her husband, an Army major, also served in Iraq.

The workshop begins 8 a.m. Thursday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Tampa Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa.

Kathleen Shanahan, former chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush and four-term congressman and gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis will be among speakers.

Yours truly will be on a panel as well, at 9:45 a.m., called “Raising Your Profile With Community Networking and Local Media.”

I guess I’ll be talking about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to enticing reporters to write about you.

For more information, go to hfrising.org, or call Crowe at (703) 380-2918

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Semper Par.

I learned about that phrase — short for Semper Paratus — from a former Coast Guard Petty Officer named Daryl Gale.

I hired Daryl back around the turn of the century, to come work for me at the Philadelphia City Paper. I was an editor there at the time, and he was a former Coastie photojournalist and spokesman who regaled me with stories of the invasion of Grenada and finding bales of marijuana while on patrol.

Semper Par, Daryl told me, meant “Always Prepared.”

Akin to the Marines’ Semper Fi (Always Faithful), it was a fitting motto, because the Coast Guard is always at the ready to save someone lost at sea or, as the service name implies, guard our national coastline.

For Daryl, it was always Semper Par at City Paper when it came to a good story, a good time, or being a good friend.

It was Semper Par at the Philadelphia Tribune as well, I am told, where he served as the city editor and continued lending his terrific voice to issues in the city he loved and loved him back.

It wasn’t Semper Par for me Thursday night, when on the way home, I got a message on Facebook from a mutual friend.

“Daryl passed,” the message read.

At first, when I stopped at a red light, I looked for the rest of the message.

Passed what?

Then it hit me.

Daryl Gale, Coast Guard veteran, big man with a big laugh, big talent and an even bigger heart, was dead.

He was 55.

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Congratulations to Charlotte Dixon of Lutz.

She was one of five people on Friday named to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

Given the typically unwieldy acronym DACOWITS by the Pentagon, the committee, established during the Korean War in 1951 by Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall.

According to the Pentagon, it is “an independent advisory committee that provides the department with advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the Armed Forces.”

Members are selected for a four-year term, without compensation, to perform a variety of duties including visiting military installations each year, conducting a review and evaluation of current research on military women, and developing an annual report with recommendations on these issues for service leadership and the secretary of defense.

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The Pentagon announced the death of a soldier in Afghanistan last week.

Spc. Terry J. Hume, 34, of Merced, California, died June 9 in Logar province, Afghanistan, from a noncombat-related incident. He was assigned to the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York.

There have now been 2,314 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation’s longest war.

 

haltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

Twitter: @haltman

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