Friday, May 12, 2017

TOP STORY >> Little Rock AFB spouse strives to make difference

By Senior Airman Mercedes Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In today’s society, there are many roles women play: wife, mother, business-owner, advocate, etc. 

Brittany Boccher, Armed Forces Insurance 2017 Air Force Spouse of the year, has many roles and fulfills them with passion. 

“I work harder now than I’ve ever worked in a paid position,” Boccher said. “I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, and it’s something that I love. It’s a lot of hours and sleepless nights, but it’s worth every minute and it’s an honor to be able to do it.”

Boccher and her husband, Adam, Office of Special Investigations agent, have two children: their daughter, Harper, and their son, Blake. 

In addition to being a dedicated wife and mother, Boccher also serves as Little Rock AFB Spouse’s Club president and the founder of the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition. In addition to being named AFI’s Air Force Spouse of the Year, she was recognized as AFI’s 2017 Top 18 Base-Level Spouses of the Year and named Little Rock AFB Spouse of the Year two years in a row. Boccher is also in the running for AFI’s 2017 Spouse of the Year, a service-wide competition.

“I’m passionate about two things,” Boccher said. “That’s being a military spouse and about the special needs community within the military.” 

In 2015, Boccher gave birth to her son who was born with Down syndrome. His birth motivated her to become an advocate for Down syndrome. 

“When my son was about a year old, I took him to the playground with my daughter and saw that he couldn’t do anything,” Boccher said. “He was unable to swing and unable to climb on anything. I spoke to the appropriate people and now, six months later, we have a special needs therapeutic swing on the playground.” 

More ideas kept coming to Boccher; she saw more changes could be made on base for special needs families. 

“I realized that shopping on and off base is difficult for families with special needs children,” Boccher said. “When they’re older and can’t fit in the cart, you’re either pushing the shopping cart or a stroller or trying to juggle both.” 

Boccher partnered with the base commissary to get a Caroline’s Cart, a special needs shopping cart, which fits from youth up to an adult-sized individual. 

“I feel like these changes will not only benefit the 400 families registered in the Exceptional Family Member Program, but all families,” Boccher said. 

Boccher’s main goal is to see a therapeutic swing and a Caroline’s Cart offered at all U.S. Air Force Bases. 

Boccher even made make changes within the community by creating the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition. 

“The goal of the coalition is to work together with other Down syndrome organizations with the vision of establishing a Gigi’s Playhouse to central Arkansas,” Boccher said. 

Gigi’s Playhouse is a resource facility for people with Down syndrome. Even though the facility is tailored for individuals with Down syndrome, it’s open to all individuals with disabilities. 

Due to her achievements here, Boccher won the 2016 Little Rock AFB Spouse of the Year award. As a result, she was the choice for president of the Little Rock AFB Spouse’s Club.  

Boccher and her board members put the club back on the map by boosting club awareness and gaining 90 members. The Club has participated in fundraising projects such as Stuff the Pantry and Operation Homefront Backpack Brigade. They have also raised approximately $15,000 for scholarships, which they will distribute in May. 

Boccher’s passion for helping spouses comes from her own experience when she became a military spouse 12 years ago. 

“At first, I dug my feet into the military life,” Boccher said. “I didn’t want to move and leave my family, friends and job. I felt thrusted into a life that I really didn’t know. I find it so important to mentor new spouses and help them embrace this life and the opportunities the military affords.” 

In between being a Down syndrome advocate and the spouse’s club, Boccher plays her most important role as a mother.  

“The rest of the time, I’m mom,” Boccher said. “I’m cleaning, cooking and playing Barbies with my daughter then it’s midnight. I call the end of the day and the next thing I know six o’clock rolls around then I’m doing it all over again. I wouldn’t change it for anything.” 

The 2017 Military Spouse of the Year will be announced May 12. Until then, Boccher will continue to play her many roles as a mother, wife, business-owner and an advocate and while striving to make a difference.

No comments: