2021 AFI MSOY Week Recap

September 7th in Washington D.C. saw the kick off the first day of the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Town Hall, a three-day event of panels, networking, and recognition of all of the hard work, challenges, and accomplishments of military spouses across all branches. The attendees, past and present winners of the AFI Military Spouse of the Year award, learned and laughed while building connections that they can take back with them to benefit their installations and communities.

The Townhall

The topics covered in the panels recognized the diversity of goals, ambitions, and backgrounds among the attendees. This was clear right from the first speaker of the event, 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Scott AFB SOY Catherine Vandament, who told attendees how they could engage their installation to bring about change through the power of the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Title.

Next, the focus widened to making a difference through engagement with government and policy initiatives. A political advocacy panel that included Rosemary Williams, Kaprece James, Sarah Streyder, and Sue Hoppin of the National Military Spouse Network gave military spouses plenty of food for thought when it comes to stepping into the political arena.

After an update on the AFI MSOY program from VP and Chief Marketing Officer for Armed Forces Insurance Lori Simmons, Town Hall attendees had an opportunity to mix, mingle, and shop during networking hour and marketplace. Then, it was time to change into jeans and AFI MSOY t shirts for a laidback welcome reception that included photo ops for spouses to announce their service affiliation, veteran status, and overall support for service members and their families!

The Town Hall’s only full day was Wednesday, September 8th, which was chock full of resources and valuable content. After the pledge of allegiance and some opening remarks from Lori Simmons, milspouse power house and entrepreneur Lakesha Cole kicked off the day by talking to attendees about making the most of their social media presence to amplify their causes.

Next, Dr. Kendra Lowe gave the military spouses in attendance some crucial information for military life: tips on coping with stress. The rest of the day was a mix of networking, information and tips for military life and advocacy, and a panel of the 2020-2021 AFI MSOY branch winners sharing their experiences, all capped off with a cocktail hour.

“I know this year’s Town Hall was smaller and I only have 2019 to compare — but I loved every moment of it,” said Day 2 panel member Jess Manfre, who spoke to attendees about building corporate sponsorships.

The final day began early in the morning with the Million Mile walk to raise awareness about suicide prevention. The day also featured the Town Hall’s crown jewel, the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Luncheon, with keynote speaker Patty Barron, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. During the luncheon, AFI MSOY honored its Legacy Award Recipient, Elaine Rogers.


It was an event to remember, especially since the honorees had been unable to celebrate in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These base and branch winners were treated like royalty, with swag bags containing uplifting, delicious, useful, and fun items from the following sponsors:

Perhaps 2020-2021 AFI MSOY Paulette Corrigan Fryar said it best when she reflected on the event. “My heart is so full,” Fryar said. “Thank you, AFI MSOY Family, for welcoming us–the 2020-21 Class–and showing us what it means to be a part of this phenomenal group!”

After a meaningful few days together, this exceptional group of military spouses are returning to their installations better prepared than ever to advocate for their communities, powerfully and effectively.