Volunteer Spotlight

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Spotlight on Carol Cole

President, Board of Governors 1996-1997

In 1996, when Carol Cole was elected President, the National Military Family Association was struggling with low membership numbers, increased demands for Congressional testimony, and working to establish the Association’s future financial security.

Despite these struggles, she says it was an exciting time for the Association. Other top challenges included better health care coverage, education incentives, and improved housing.

One of the proudest moments during her presidency was the development of the Very Important Patriot award and the establishment of a financial reserve for the Association. While the Association now boasts many corporate sponsors, this wasn’t always the case. Carol’s tenure as President marked the first time the Association received corporate sponsorship. This new funding, along with the effort to establish financial reserves, contributed significantly toward ensuring the long-term financial stability of the Association.

Even with the beginnings of corporate support for the Association’s mission, the operating budget was very small. The Association listed only three or four staffers on its payroll and the job didn’t come with benefits like healthcare. Like Carol, the employees were all military spouses, doing the job because they believed in the mission.

Carol’s commitment to the National Military Family Association began in 1986, while living in Hawaii. She assisted with tabulating and analyzing the Hawaii Quality of Life Survey. That experience prompted her to write an informational brochure for families moving to Hawaii. The brochure, “So You Are Moving to Hawaii,” was published by the Department of the Navy the next year. After returning to the mainland, she began working with the National Military Family Association in Washington, DC, planning and executing special events. She served as Vice President in 1995 and as President from 1996 - 1997.

When asked what advice she would give to the Association and its President today, she responds, “Be true to your values and beliefs.” For her, this means supporting families with “quality medical care, salary, travel benefits, and education.” 

She also has some advice for today’s military families. “Love it,” she says, "Service to your country and to other service members and their families is an incredible experience, few people get to enjoy."

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