Being married to a member of our nation’s military can be considered a full-time job. These spouses face challenges that a non-military family cannot relate to – like the 11 moves in 14 years that the Hamrick family of Crofton have made.
“If anyone tells you ahead of time how hard it’s going to be [a military spouse], you couldn’t do it,” said Kristi Hamrick. Her husband, TJ, an Air Force pilot, is a third generation winner of the Bronze Star. His father served in Vietnam, and his grandfather served in World War II.
Kristi Hamrick learned early on that to survive each move she needed to join organizations in the community in which she was living. During her recent stint in Crofton, she joined forces with Davidsonville resident Jen Pilcher to co-lead a Military Mothers of Preschoolers group at the U.S. Naval Academy. That partnership has led to a new career for both women.
Three months ago they co-founded Military1Click , an organization dedicated to helping military families find the resources they need.
Their website includes links to resources such as scholarships for children of military families, relocation information, a list of retailers that offer military discounts, and a special section for parents of service men and woman.
“I don’t ever want to see a spouse say ‘I don’t know where to get help,’” Pilcher said.
Her husband, Eddie, is an U.S. Naval Academy graduate who also has a strong family tradition of military service. His grandfather served in Korea, his father is a Vietnam veteran and is mother served as a physical therapist in the armed forces.
Eddie Pilcher and TJ Hamrick were not raised by active duty parents. They were unable to anticipate or prepare their wives for the challenges of military life. But the two families look on their early military years – when they spent more time apart than they did together – in a positive light.
The great thing about the military is that even if you feel alone, you look around and realize that everyone else is in the same position, said Eddie Pilcher.
Those early years showed us how much of a need there is for a strong support community system for military families, Jen Pilcher said. Military1Click is an online community that’s here for you 24/7. You’ll move, but we won’t, she said.
So far Pilcher and Hamrick have spent about $1,000 of their own money to start up the business. Eventually they would like to find corporate sponsors. “We’re not in it for the money, but we do realize that we need funding to get the word out,” Pilcher said.
Pilcher and Hamrick want the information on the site to be usable and quick to get to – hence the “1 click” in their name. Some might say the site is too simple, Pilcher said, but I’ve been on sites where it’s information overload, there’s so much information that you can’t take it all in, she said. We keep the information updated, and make sure it’s applicable to military families, she said.
The site’s users seem to appreciate the simplicity. “We get emails all the time telling us thank you,” Hamrick said. User statistics show that the site is regularly accessed by people in more than 25 countries. In less than three months, through word-of-mouth, they have amassed more than 1,200 Facebook friends.
The two women have been invited to the White House several times since they started the site and they are part of the Joining Forces Initiative.
“Our goal is to make ‘support our troops’ a verb, not a bumper sticker,” said Hamrick.