By Master Sgt. Matt McCoy, 184th Public Affairs
When talking with Josephine Jacobs, it doesn’t take long to recognize her passion for educating military families. Her involvement with the 184th Airman and Family Readiness Office at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, is centered on developing educational workshops for military members and their spouses.
It was for her drive and dedication that she was nominated and selected as the 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Military Base Spouse of the Year® for the Kansas National Guard and McConnell Air Force Base.
Josephine is known to her friends as Josie. She’s married to Tech. Sgt. Louis Jacobs III, air and space ground equipment specialist, 134th Air Control Squadron. Together they have four children ranging from ages four to 14 years old.
Josie served in the Army National Guard at various locations including Pennsylvania, Hawaii, New Jersey, and the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia. During her time at the NGB, she received a coin for being the youngest ranking enlisted Soldier to have worked there.
“I got to escort White House officials, a two star general and all high ranking officers through secure locations that they didn’t have a security clearance for,” said Josie.
She began volunteering with the 184th Intelligence Wing in 2015 as her husband’s squadron was preparing to deploy. She started out by assembling hero dolls for children whose parents were deploying, but the squadron had enough volunteers and suggested contacting Hilari DeLaRosa, the 184th Airman and Family Readiness Program manager.
“So I came over and it just stuck,” said Josie. “I was helping her while my husband was deployed doing whatever she needed as an assistant volunteer.”
“Josie is very creative,” said Hilari. “She’s got lots and lots of ideas and she researches a lot of things.”
That creativity has certainly paid off. Her interests and knowledge in fashion led to some of the events included in Spa Day, a very popular annual event sponsored by the 184th Airman and Family Readiness Office. The springtime event offers free health spa services to more than 400 military families from local businesses and volunteers.
These days, Josie spends at least one afternoon a week helping Hilari at McConnell Air Force Base. Her primary focus is developing what they call, Military Family Enrichment Workshops.
Some of the main responsibilities assigned to the 184th Airman and Family Readiness Office include life education, personal readiness and emergency family assistance.
“Having volunteers to take those on is really beneficial,” said Hilari.
Hilari is the only full-time, paid employee in an office that provides a tremendous amount of services. In many cases, some of those services would be impossible without volunteers. That’s where Josie provides value.
“She is one of a few volunteers that work directly for me on specific tasks,” said Hilari. “She has come in and we’ve been working on these military family enrichment workshops. The goal is to offer, once a quarter, workshops on life skills, life enhancement; things of value that our military community might want to participate in.”
Currently, the workshops cover activities such as parenting, nutrition and wellness, mental health, child abuse, sexual assault and emergency family planning.
“We’ve got several years’ worth of classes that we can do,” said Hilari.
Everything about the workshops are free for the attendees including admittance, refreshments, child care, guest speakers and resources. They’re designed for all military families, not just for Kansas Air National Guard spouses.
“On June 2, we’re doing a Four Lenses Class which pertains to learning about different types of personalities and how to try and work that into working with coworkers,” said Josie. “Our next one is on September 8, and we’re going to be learning about the Five Love Languages four Children.”
The Four Lenses classes are from 9-11 each day.
In addition to the collecting the required supplies, the team is searching for sponsors to help offset the expenses involved in providing the workshops.
“It’s not a job but it really is,” said Josie. “You’re helping out your base, you’re helping out your Airmen and you’re helping out military spouses. The community is our overall goal.”
With all of the value Josie brings to Kansas military families, it’s no wonder she was selected for national recognition.
Base Military Spouse of the Year
The Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® is presented by Military Spouse Magazine.
According to their website, “Military Spouse Magazine founded the Military Spouse of the Year® (MSOY) award in 2008 to honor military spouses from all branches of service. More than a million military spouses support and maintain the home front while their service members defend this great nation. The Military Spouse of the Year® award recognizes military spouses’ important contributions and unwavering commitment to the military community and our country.”
The program receives nominations from the military community all over the world. Friends, neighbors, family members and colleagues submit nominations for military spouses over the age of 18, and who are currently not serving on active, reserve or National Guard status.
“I know last year, Miss Hilari was one of the ones who put me in for a nomination,” said Josie. “This year, Jackie Russo, who I know in Pennsylvania, nominated me and Michael Wyatt, who lives in Texas, and he’s former military, he was one of the ones that nominated me.”
Once a person is nominated, an election process occurs and the spouse with the highest popular vote for a base is selected as the spouse of the year for that installation.
“Overall, people who are nominating you, they pretty well know you or know your work ethic or know of you,” said Josie. “So your work ethic and what you’re doing to volunteer or assist the military, your branch, your state, in all comes into factor but it’s not required.”
In 2017, Josie was selected as the Base Military Spouse of the Year for McConnell. This year, she’s representing the entire Kansas National Guard.
“You get to represent your base, which is a big deal,” said Josie. “You get to bring to light, not only what you do, but what your base is doing as a whole. At least that’s what I hope to do.”
In May, the award recipients were invited for a recognition retreat in Washington D.C. that included ceremonies and tours. White House officials, political figures and top military personnel participate in the ceremonies to honor the spouses.
“Technically, I was supposed to go to D.C. and that’s where the big event happens’” said Josie. “All the military spouses would fly in and they get to tour the memorials.”
Unfortunately, due to Air National Guard operations that required Louis to be away from home during the ceremonies, Josie had to respectfully decline the invitation.
“It would be nice to be there but some of us have to stay on the home front too.”