Spotlight on Barbara Williams
Chairman, Board of Governors 2003
The National Military Family Association’s past Presidents have come to the organization through a variety and often unexpected pathways. This can certainly be said for past President and Vice President (2004-2005) Barbara Williams. In 1992, her neighbor Jim Mutter, a Marine Corps spouse and a past President of the Association, encouraged her involvement. In 1992, the Marine Corp was under-represented within the Association in terms of spouses. As many members of military families so often do, Barbara answered the call and was elected to the Board of Governors. The rest as they say is history.
The road to becoming a President of the Association was sprinkled with many other key leadership positions for Barbara. She co-chaired the VIP-Very Important Patriot Program for many years. Under her tenure, VIP programs garnered the majority of funds needed to maintain the budget for the Association.
The past ten years for the military have been marked with unprecedented multiple deployments for the men and women of our uniformed services. No one knows this better than Barbara, who felt the strain on military families throughout her time as President and Vice President. She speaks of the importance of the Association and how the phones were staffed 24/7. Extensions of deployments, delays in information and concern for their loved ones dominated the calls. Barbara worked hard to convey this to Congress, military leaders, and the White House. Because of these efforts, new and better relationships were forged that have strengthened the Association and its resulting services.
Barbara was instrumental in assisting the Association with a broad scope of new achievements. In 2003, Sears Roebuck contacted the Association with a one million dollar donation to fund Christmas parties for the troops. Barbara took to the task seriously and asked for additional time to conduct a careful assessment of how military families could best be served. Sears Roebuck agreed and Barbara was able to establish Operation Purple® summer camps. Over the past seven years, these camps have grown well beyond the expectations Barbara could have imagined at the time.
Perhaps her most significant accomplishment, while serving as President, was guiding the Association through a major expansion of services. Barbara integrated programming as diverse as scholarships, financial training and of course, Operation Purple. She continues to feel as passionately as ever about the needs of military families and the work of the Association. Her advice to the current and future chair people is simple, continue our work and pay particular attention to the Veterans Association and the needs of returning Wounded Warriors. To the military families she says “Remember you are not alone, our prayers are with you, we will continue to advocate for you, and we will be there for you always.”
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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