Astoria's Jennifer Bassett has been named the national U.S. Coast Guard winner in the Military Spouse of the Year program.
She advances to another vote for overall Military Spouse, featuring winners from all other service branches.
The program is organized by the Armed Forces Insurance and presented by Military Spouse Magazine.
"It's huge for Coast Guard families," Bassett said. "It's a huge platform to be able to do more things for military families."
Bassett is a former U.S.Marine who is the wife of Josh Bassett, chief electrician's mate on the Cutter Alert. She was chosen in an Internet vote, coming out ahead of a shortlist of other candidates around the nation.
The other 2012 branch winners are:
Jeremy Hilton (U.S. Air Force) of Burke, Va.
El Brown (U.S. Army) of Monterey, Calif.
Stephanie Geraghty (U.S. Marine Corps) of Jacksonville, N.C.
Erin Strasburger (U.S. Navy) of Virginia Beach, Va.
Christine Gilbreath (U.S. National Guard) of Crowley, Texas.
Military Spouse magazine organizes the competition. It has never been won by the Coast Guard.
The final round of voting began Tuesday and ends March 5. The winner for 2012 will be announced at the fifth annual awards ceremony May 10 in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony will be held at the Marine Corps' oldest active post, home of Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marines, and the historic site of the Corps' evening parades.
Bassett has three main issues she's trying to get more attention to through her nomination and increased contact with higher military officials.
"I'm working on a proposal for a military family bill that addresses the experience of K-12 students" moving from state to state, she said. It focuses on helping students who move to states with differing educational standards keep a nationally standardized curriculum.
She hopes the bill will help military families living away from bases get more access to resources. For example, many resources for Coast Guard families in the Lower Columbia Region are available if they drive three hours to Seattle. She said the Seattle offices do a great job promoting resources locally, but would like to see even more.
Finally, Bassett hopes the bill will address issues for military spouses trying to teach while moving around the country. She said there are a lot of hoops to jump through for spouses wanting to teach in other states that require their own separate credentials.
"One of the grander things with the bill I'm proposing is getting military families captured under one branch," she said. "I think it's really important that" each branch is equally represented.
"Each of our six branch winners are standout candidates and could easily win the Military Spouse of the Year title," said Babette Maxwell, the magazine's founder and executive editor. "All Americans should cast votes for the spouse they feel will best lead the entire military spouse community."
"I think Meaghan was the most excited about this," said Bassett about her win.
Her daughter, Meaghan Bassett, is a contender for the Military Child of the Year award, organized by military family support nonprofit Operation Homefront. She made it into the top 20 of Coast Guard candidates. The top five will be announced March 1. The branch winner will be announced March 8.
Organizers say the Military Spouse of the Year program represents the millions of past and present military spouses who continue to thrive in a wartime environment, dedicate their lives and families to service of a grateful nation and give back to a community in need.
"As America's warriors have honorably served our nation this past 10 years in deployment after deployment, military spouses have dutifully served here at home," said Lt. Gen. Garry L. Parks, a retired Marine and chairman of Armed Forces Insurance.
"AFI is delighted to once again sponsor the Military Spouse of the Year Award, which appropriately recognizes both their personal sacrifices and overall contributions to military families and units that span the world."
Learn more about the individual branch winners and how to vote for Bassett for Military Spouse of the Year at http://www.milspouse.com/msoy
Photo courtesy military Spouse magazine