Surviving Spouse Corner: Looking Back on 2022

Surviving Spouse Corner: Looking Back on 2022
Gail Joyce, chair of the Surviving Spouse Advisory Council, speaks during the Spouse and Surviving Spouse Summit at the 2022 MOAA Annual Meeting of the Membership in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Mike Morones/MOAA)

Surviving spouses comprise approximately 13% of MOAA’s membership — that is over 46,000 members, voices, voters, givers, and doers. The Surviving Spouse Advisory Council (SSAC) represents these 46,000 members by supporting surviving spouses and spouses and promoting MOAA’s strategic priorities at every opportunity through education, encouragement, and engagement. 


In 2022, surviving spouses led MOAA chapters as president, secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor, program director, and legislative chair and created and managed community programs. We conducted five surviving spouse liaison trainings for over 100 surviving spouse liaisons, spoke at more than two dozen chapter meetings, wrote 12 articles, contributed to more than 100 Advocacy In Action sessions, and participated in 12 virtual meetings with over 500 total participants. We also organized and participated in a surviving spouse/spouse summit that attracted more than 80 participants. Here’s a closer look:


Surviving Spouse Liaison Training: SSAC member training was held during regional leadership workshops in Florida, Washington, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Texas. Average attendance for each workshop was 80, with about 20 attending the Surviving Spouse Liaison Training. SSAC members continue to fine-tune the training based on new information, evaluations, and comments from participants.


[SURVIVING SPOUSE CORNER: Strengthen the MOAA Community]


Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter: Membership continues to grow, with 210 members from 38 states. The chapter meets on the third Tuesday of each month. Every other month is a business meeting with a speaker, and alternate months are an informal gathering to exchange information and ideas. Attendance varies but usually includes 30 at the social meetings and about 60 at the more formal meeting. Learn more about the chapter online.


Articles for MOAA Newsletters: SSAC members wrote monthly Surviving Spouse Corner columns, which are published the first Thursday of each month in The MOAA Newsletter. Read past Surviving Spouse Corners.


Surviving Spouse Liaison Excellence Award: This year, we chose two excellent finalists from an outstanding list of nominees as recipients of the award — one representing a chapter and one representing a council. Learn more about this year’s recipients, Judith Thomas and Patricia Bergquist.


Surviving Spouse/Spouse Summit: A highlight of the year was the second annual “Surviving Spouse/Spouse Summit,” held during the MOAA annual meeting in October in Kansas City, Mo. Over 80 surviving spouses, spouses, and military members attended the two-hour event that featured a five-member panel discussing relevant issues. Based on evaluations and comments, it was a huge success and something we can build on for future events. 


Chapter Leaders Roundtable Discussion: SSAC members participated in roundtable discussions about important chapter issues. This was an excellent opportunity for SSAC members to get to know chapter leaders from other states. 


MOAA Surviving Spouses and Friends Facebook Group: This group has over 750 members and provides updated information on important surviving spouse issues, especially regarding the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset. Former SSAC member Kathy Prout is the administrator, with current SSAC members Kathy Thorp and Nancy Mullens assisting. 


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Community Involvement: In addition to direct MOAA involvement, SSAC members participated in caregiving and Gold Star Family organizations, Veterans Day and Memorial Day events, and with local veterans’ service organizations such as the VFW, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans.

The council’s goals for 2023 include increasing surviving spouse membership in national MOAA, local chapters, and the virtual chapter; developing a webinar on surviving spouse and spouse issues; and organizing the next Spouse/Surviving Spouse Summit. Improving training guidelines and support materials will also be at the top of our to-do list this year. We look forward to a very productive and exciting year as we never stop serving!


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