Military Spouses and Survivors

Military spouses play a critical role in the defense of our Nation. With an all-volunteer force and operational tempos never reached before in history, more and more has been asked of our military spouses. HillVets believes it important to highlight their continued and vital commitment to servicemembers, our Nation, and our national security. We would also be remiss not to spotlight the continued service of those men and women who lost their loved one in service to our Nation. Many of these men and women have channelled their loss to help others, and we salute them for doing so.

Edith Smith, National Military Family Association

Mrs. Edith G. Smith, widow of a service connected disabled retired Marine, is an advocate for veterans, their families, and survivors. Smith is a member of Gold Star Wives of America and for over 20 years has been a leader in the fight to end the SBP/DIC offset, also known as the “Widows Tax”. In part due to Smith’s many years of advocacy, and through her testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, finally in 2019 a plan to phase out the offset was successfully incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. Photo credit: WUSA9

Lindsey Finnegan, Travis Manion Foundation

Lindsey Finnegan is the Senior Director of Membership of the Travis Manion Foundation (TMF). She holds a BA in Psychology and a BA in Sociology from Brown University in addition to an MBA from San Diego State University. Lindsey has been a US Navy military spouse for over 11 years while working in the VSO space for over 8 years. For 6 years, Lindsey grew the 9/11 Heroes Run race series from a local Pennsylvania event to a national series of over 50 domestic locations and additional international presence – providing communities across the country and around the world the opportunity to unite and honor our heroes. Now Lindsey focuses on supporting the over 100,000 TMF Spartans through member engagement analysis, opportunity development, and strategic engagement.

@TMfoundation

Lisa Hallett, Wear Blue Run 2 Remember

Lisa Hallett is the President and Co-Founder of Wear Blue: Run to Remember.  On August 25, 2009, Lisa’s husband, CPT John Hallett, was killed when his Stryker was attacked with an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan.  Surviving the loss of her husband, best friend, and father of her three young children, Lisa turned to running. An avid runner, she soon found a community that needed the same kind of support that running gave her.  Creating Wear Blue gave Lisa a healthy outlet for her grief and a path to move forward, and she’s committed to sharing that with others.  Lisa has an M.Ed.T. from University of Hawaii and a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California- Santa Barbara.  She completed dozens of ultramarathons and has set a full marathon PR of 3:28:00. Lisa has completed seven Ironman races, including the Ironman World Championships.  Lisa and her three young children reside in DuPont, WA. They are moving forward and loving life, honoring John with every step.

@Lisa_A_Hallett

@wbr2r

Kelly Hruska, National Military Family Association

Kelly became the Government Relations Director of the National Military Family Association in 2015. In this role, she leads the Association’s advocacy for the families of the seven Uniformed Services and monitors the range of issues relevant to their quality of life. She began her work with the Association in 2007 as a Government Relations Deputy Director and served as an Outreach Coordinator in 2014. She is also the Co-Chair of The Military Coalition (TMC), the Co-Chair of the TMC’s survivor committee and has served on the DoD Military Family Council. In 2019, she helped lead the way to finally ending the Widows Tax, a decades long issue impacting military and retiree widows. Kelly has been a Navy spouse for 26 years. She is a recipient of the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Medal in recognition of her work on behalf of service members and their families at Navy Region Center Singapore.

@NMFAKelly

Traci Voelke

Traci Voelke is the surviving spouse of MAJ Paul C. Voelke, United States Army, Infantry, killed in Afghanistan on June 22, 2012 while he was serving as the XO for 3ID, 1-30 IN on his 5 th deployment overseas. Traci and Paul were high school sweethearts and married for 13 years when Paul was killed They have two sons, AJ, 15 and Benjamin, 13. Traci Voelke is a civilian attorney working for the US Army at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a dual major in Socio-cultural Anthropology and Government and Politics. Ms. Voelke earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia, School of Law and is licensed to practice in New York, Georgia, the District of Columbia and Virginia. As a military spouse for 12 years, Ms. Voelke has held multiple jobs as an attorney including, Law Clerk to the Honorable Mallon G. Faircloth, Retired, US District Court, 11th Circuit, Assistant County Attorney to the Jefferson County, NY, County Attorney, Assistant Attorney General, District of Columbia, Washington DC and Legal Assistance Attorney, United States Army, Fort Stewart, Georgia. In addition, she is an advocate for military surviving family benefits and serves on the Chief of Staff of the Army, Survivor Advisory Committee. Additionally, Ms. Voelke serves on the Board of the 98 Fund, a 501(c)(3) which serves graduates and families associated with the United States Military Academy.