Volunteer Spotlight

Spotlight on Margaret Vinson Hallgren

President, Board of Governors 1989-1990, 1992-1993
Chairman, Board of Governors 2001-2002

Margaret Vinson Hallgren is that rare volunteer who combines comprehensive military family experience with the ability to lead, teach, and inspire. Margaret has been a military family member her whole life: first as an Army brat, then as an Army wife, Army widow, and currently, a retired-Army wife. She has been a part of the National Military Family Association’s family for more than eighteen years.

After graduating from Vassar College and Duke University with Master’s degrees in Accounting and Political Science/International Law, Margaret worked as an intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency for two years. At the National Military Family Association, she served as President for six terms, Director of Government Relations for four terms, and Chairman of Development for several terms. Acquaintances note that one of Margaret’s greatest accomplishments was running the Development Department and securing the funds so that the Association could continue.

In 1989, during her first term as Association President, Margaret oversaw the search for and move to new offices. In that year she also saw our financial assets triple from those of the previous year. The Represenative program underwent major changes as well, from improvement of the application and reporting systems to Board approval for the regionalized Representative program that would be implemented in 1990.

In 1992, during her third term, Margaret emphasised the importance of membership expansion and visibility. In that year, several Association-supported issues went into law, from the retroactive application of Adoption Reimbursment, to the protection of the retiree and survivor Cost of Living Adjustment. She was particularly proud of the major role the Association played in the expansion of the Active Duty Dependents’ Dental Plan.

Her next term, in 2001, saw the beginning of a new era for our Nation and our Association. In November of that year, Margaret wrote of a need for everyone to go forward to a new normal in response to the 9/11 attacks. She would later write that, “Something good [had] come out of the evil,” and reiterated that, “It is an honor for NMFA to serve those who serve.” She also called special attention to the concerns of National Guard and Reserve family members as an increased number of their loved ones were called to active duty.

Also in 2001, she saw the Association headquarters move to our current location, where Association employees were able to take a step forward in our information technology development, with a new telephone system augmenting a recently-installed computer system.

In 2002, she spoke of “a more involved war that loomed in addition to the ongoing war on terror,” one that would require our Service families to “be called upon increasingly to make sacrifices for their country.” She understood that “this Association and those in the coalitions and organizations with which we work [would] be asked to assume a larger role in serving an even greater number of families in new and different ways.”

She also detailed the Association’s growth, and the increased responsibiltiy that came with it. She welcomed the increasing number of Volunteer Representatives in this country and around the world, who, as our ‘eyes and ears and voice,’ make a major contribution to responding to the demands in fullfillment of our mission.

A Congressional Tribute presented by Virginia Representative James Moran said Margaret was the vanguard of Congress and the Department of Defense’s efforts to sustain readiness and the all volunteer force.” Representative Moran also recalled what he believed to be her biggest achievement: her role as one of the 12 original co-founders of the Military Coalition. TMC was originally organized to repeal legislation that would have reduced retired cost-of-living adjustments by more than 20% over a seven year period. After succeeding on this front, Moran said, “Margaret and other leaders in the Coalition had the foresight to recognize its future potential and keep it intact.” It was thanks to Margaret’s insight, Moran believed, that the National Military Family Association continues to be a leader in TMC on issues affecting military families.

In her farewell message in The Voice for Military Families, Margaret Vinson Hallgren called her time with the National Military Family Assocition the most meaningful years of her life. She said that her time with us gave her “an ever-increasing appreciation for the families who live in this Community, who enjoy the opportunities that come with living a life of service, and who also endure the sacrifices they must make.”

Margaret Hallgren has served the military family through the Association for nearly two decades. She has been an example of grace, humor, and determination. Her legacy is the corps of dedicated volunteers she taught, led, and inspired.

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