"I want to give a heartfelt thank you to Delta Zeta, the organization that inspired me to be a volunteer and encouraged me to be involved in philanthropy."
Photos: Kalyn Brown Photography
Brittany Hahn Boccher, an alumna of the Zeta Psi Chapter (Stephen F. Austin State University) has been named 2017 Armed Forces Military Spouse of the Year.
Brittany fulfills many roles in a busy life filled with love and giving. She is an Air Force spouse of eleven years, a mother, business owner, volunteer and mentor and a loyal friend.
Brittany lives with her husband, four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son on Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB). "We look forward to where God chooses to place us next because we know, 'Home is where the Air Force sends us,'" Brittany said.
"I’m the president of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club and an advisory board member for the LRAFB Thrift Store," Brittany continued. "My fellow board members are amazing and together have raised over $20,000 in funds and in-kind donations to support our welfare and scholarship programs. We have increased club participation by 800 percent in 2016 and have made monumental impacts in our community by stocking the on-base food pantry to maximum capacity, providing backpacks for more than 300 military children, collecting and packaging more than 75 care packages for deployed troops and supporting our on base school by purchasing physical education equipment and assisting in the build of pollinator gardens."
Brittany participated in the signing of House Bill 1162, also known as the Retired Military Tax Cut in the state of Arkansas. The passage of this bill creates a tax relief for military retirees beginning January 2018.
"In 2016," Brittany said, "I was a public speaker during Women’s History Month and national disability month. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by local news stations to discuss military life during the holidays and what it's like to be a deployed family during the holidays."
Brittany's little boy is special to her family as he lives with Down syndrome. She sees that as an opportunity to do all she can to help and educate. "I had the opportunity to promote the exceptional family program during an interview for World Down Syndrome Day," she said. "In 2016, I followed my dream and became the founder and director of the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition 'Tank Filled Life' project, educating and advocating for individuals with Down syndrome. The Coalition is a partnership of active Down syndrome organizations across the state of Arkansas, advocating on the behalf of individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
"I find advocacy and awareness for individuals with Down syndrome as a top priority, which led me to photographing and designing a 2017 Down syndrome calendar to raise funds for a life improvement scholarship program. The calendar featured 10 individuals with Down syndrome and raised over $1,000 for scholarships.
Brittany coordinated Cancer Care bags for children at the local children’s hospital in Arkansas. "As a parent of a child with special needs," she said, "we consider our local hospital our second home and it is an honor to give back to our second home and the patients that so highly rely on its care!
"Most importantly, I used my platform as the 2017 Military Spouse of the Year for Little Rock Air Force base to change the landscape of a playground on base. While standing on the playground one day, I realized my son, with a disability, had no opportunity for play at the base playground. I identified a gap of ADA accessible play options for children with special needs and approached the appropriate people to achieve a playground with accessible therapeutic swings designed to support children with physical disabilities. In addition, I encouraged and achieved the purchase of Caroline Carts for people with special needs at our DECA commissary. This was a truly rewarding experience."
Brittany is an advocate and parent liaison for the Air Force Exceptional Family Member Program. "I work closely with the Airman and Family Readiness Center in coordinating monthly EFMP support meetings that provide resources for our military families," she said. "In addition, I’m constantly educating myself about cutting edge research and treatments for individuals with Down syndrome and I administer neurodevelopmental therapies to my son daily in hopes of limiting the challenges of physical and cognitive disability that he may experience in his life."
As she reflects on her life, she sees opportunities to mentor and give in many ways. "Just 12 years ago," Brittany said, "I was graduating college with a B.S. in Community Health Education and Kinesiology. Shortly thereafter I pursued and achieved a Master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, which led me to not only establish two personal businesses, but to also mentor and encourage fellow military spouses on becoming small business owners. I’m the owner of Brittany Boccher Photography and the co-owner of Mason Chix apparel. Both companies directly support Down syndrome treatment, research and neurodevelopmental therapies as well as other military entrepreneurs. As co-owner of Mason Chix I have created the opportunity to partner with a disabled veteran and three military spouses to feature their products in our brick-and-mortar shop. In addition, I utilized the company and its customers to start a shirt fundraiser for a military spouse and mother of four who is battling cancer. Proceeds from the shirt fundraiser are directly supporting the food, travel and lodging expenses the family is experiencing during treatment. I’ve also designed a shirt for a mission group traveling to Haiti and donated all proceeds to their cause. In addition, I’ve designed a shirt and fundraised for a family adopting a child from China.
"It warms my heart to share my knowledge, education and experience with fellow spouses and that knowledge has helped provide guidance to more than ten military spouses in successfully starting their own businesses. I’m extremely passionate about encouraging military spouses to embrace military life, the military community and the opportunities afforded to them by the military. I want them to know they are not alone and that somebody somewhere has been in their shoes. We’ve all experienced Murphy’s Law as soon as our spouse leaves for a deployment and I find sharing these experiences provide others the encouragement they need to persevere and move forward. At this point in life I consider myself an 'expert' at packing and moving cross-country, at making new friends and building friendships that will last a lifetime. The last 11 years have been exhilarating; we've experienced three deployments and four new assignments!"
The Military Spouse of the Year® program represents millions of past and present military spouses who dedicate their lives and families to the service of a grateful nation and give back to their communities. For more information, please visit www.msoy.militaryspouse.com.