Past President Biographies

Raye S. Dickens
President, Board of Governors 1969-1971

Ms. Dickens, the spouse of a Navy retiree, served as the first officer until the official election of the Board of Governors took place at the General Meeting in 1970 in which she was officially elected to serve as President for a one-year term from 1970-1971.

Ms. Raye Dickens died in May 1976. Our June 1976 newsletter memorial reads as follows:
“It is with deep regret that the N.M.W.A. (National Military Wives Association) has learned of the recent death of Ms. Dickens who was one of the organizers and first President of the original Military Wives Association. Incorporated in Annapolis, Md. During the first two years she and the other concerned military wives worked diligently for Survivor Benefit Plan legislation and Recomputation of retired pay. The Military Wives Assn. as well as military Servicemen’s organizations was instrumental in getting the Survivor Benefit Plan law passed in 1972.”

Mildred Remaley
President, Board of Governors 1972

In 1972, the Survivor Benefit Plan legislation passed. This was the first “win” for our Association. At this time, however, only 15% of retirees had elected to take this program, which would give future widows a portion of retired pay. Recomputation of retired pay continued to be of concern. At this time, retired pay was set at 1958 active duty rates. This legislation would increase the retire pay rate to current year pays.

Maurine Soxman
President, Board of Governors 1973-1974
Ms. Soxman was first President elected to serve a two-year term. During Ms. Soxman’s presidency, recomputation continues to still be an issue. MWA conducts a survey with military widows to identify issues of concerns. Results from this survey, provided answers to issues identified by the questionnaire to widows, specifically recommending military members and spouses be more proactive in future financial planning and offering some specific courses of action for planning or executing financial plans
The Secretary of Defense restores widow’s rights to Exchange/Commissary privileges. 

Caroline Davis
President, Board of Governors 1975-1976
In 1976, during Ms. Davis’ term as President, the organizational name changed to National Military Wives Association, Inc (NMWA) to reflect the national membership of 2,000 existing in 50 States/U.S. Bases overseas.

Changes to the bylaws amended that Officers would be elected for a one-year term and can be reelected for an additional one-year term if not finished their second consecutive two-year term on the Board.
Threats to changing commissaries to being self-sufficient would have made their pricing comparable to the civilian chains and an initiative that would have allowed the States to tax sales of the commissaries and the exchanges. In a survey, our members identified the following benefits as being of most significant concern:  Commissaries, Survivor Benefit Plan, recomputation of retired pay, health care (including CHAMPUS), and additional widow’s benefits. 

Sally Griffen
President, Board of Governors 1977-1978

During Ms. Griffen’s term, in 1977, concern over the health care system was a hot subject. The physician shortage and problems associated with adequate military medical care for retirees were discussions in our testimony. Commissaries that had been saved the year before were being threatened again. Providing information to spouses on the importance of having wills and powers of attorneys came from the lack of understanding of the need for these documents. 

Patsy Rutledge 
President, Board of Governors 1986-1987

In 1986, Mrs. Anna Chennault founded the Board of Advisors (BOA to assist and promote the Association. The new BOA has no policy role, but meets informally to exchange ideas on working to benefit the Association. Advisors include members experienced in military and government service, as well as representatives from business and industry. 

The working issues during Ms. Rutledge’s term were the provisions for the dental insurance plan, hiring preferences for spouses, commissary support for Reservists and their families, increased support for legislation protecting former spouses, Impact Aid to schools, and CHAMPUS reform.

Susan Bushey
President, Board of Governors 1991

Desert Shield/Desert Storm was a main focus and concern for the Association. Under Ms. Bushey, the Nation once again returns to war. Family support is tested, broken, revamped, and new coping skills are learned. The Association became a resource for family members with a deployed service member. Understanding the notification process was not only a personal concern, but also a safety concern. In the end, new legislation was passed to revamp and introduce better support for military families as a result of the war.

Michele Webb
President, Board of Governors 1994

During Ms. Webb’s term as President, Defense Authorization Act signed into law provided funds for overseas dental program, medical research, on-installation schools support, some of the active duty pay raise and retiree COLA and development of Child Development facilities. Increased funding for Impact Aid, Family Support, At Risk Youth, New Parent Support and Family Advocacy Programs were authorized.

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