Surviving Spouse Corner: 2020 Review

Surviving Spouse Corner: 2020 Review
Dilok Klaisataporn/iStock/Getty Images

Despite obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Surviving Spouse Advisory Council (SSAC) continued to serve all surviving spouses and spouses in the focus areas of encouraging, engaging, and educating. Some major accomplishments were:

  • Surviving Spouse Liaison Training at MOAA’s Regional Leadership Conferences — SSAC members led training at the in-person Florida conference in January and at the virtual events in Colorado Springs and Louisville in September and November, respectively.
  • Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter — Membership continues to grow, with 134 members from 30 states. The chapter meets quarterly on the third Tuesday of January, April, July, and October at 1 p.m., Eastern Time. The 2020 July and October meetings took place via Zoom. For more information, email or go to the surviving spouse section of
  • Articles for MOAA Newsletters — SSAC members wrote monthly articles that are published on the first Thursday of each month in The MOAA Newsletter. Read past articles here.
  • Celebrating the Elimination of the “Widows Tax” — In February, several SSAC members attended the congressional reception on Capitol Hill to celebrate the elimination of the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset, also called the widows tax. The repeal of the widows tax is the result of lobbying and letter-writing dating back to the mid-1970s when associations like MOAA (then TROA) and others were lobbying for full payment of SBP without offsets to Social Security and DIC.
  • Selection of New SSAC Members — Barbara Bowman (Oklahoma), Renee Brunelle (Florida), Patricia Green (Florida), and Vivianne Wersel (North Carolina) were selected to serve on the council from 2020-24, with the option of remaining on for two additional years. Read more about members of the SSAC.
  • Surviving Spouse Liaison Excellence Award — Mary Dunagan from the Cape Canaveral (Fla.) Chapter was selected for this award. She also serves as the surviving spouse liaison for the Florida Council of Chapters. Read more about Mary and her accomplishments.
  • Facebook Group Name Change — The group was renamed “Surviving Spouses and Friends” so people other than surviving spouses can join.


The opportunity to serve as an SSAC member for the past six years has been a great honor for me. MOAA is an organization composed of a myriad programs designed to serve members and led by incredible professionals. I feel I have been part of an SSAC team that has blazed new trails for surviving spouse members and spouses of living uniformed servicemembers. We changed our name from “auxiliary members” to “surviving spouse members” to represent our status as voting MOAA members. What began as an almost total focus on advocacy six years ago has developed into a broad spectrum of programs.


I especially appreciate the opportunity to assist in the development of the surviving spouse liaison training for the MOAA regional conferences. I am confident the new SSAC will raise services to higher levels as they “never stop serving.”


Read past Surviving Spouse Corners.



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About the Author

Anne Hartline
Anne Hartline

Hartline is the former chair of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council.